Spyware and other unwanted software can
Invade your privacy
Bombard you with pop-up windows
Slow down your computer
Make your computer crash
Here are several ways you can help protect your computer against spyware and other unwanted software.
Step 1: Use a firewall
While most spyware and other unwanted software come bundled with other programs or originate from unscrupulous websites, a small amount of spyware can actually be placed on your computer remotely by hackers. Installing a firewall or using the firewall that's built into Windows Vista and Windows XP provides a helpful defense against these hackers.
To learn more about firewalls, read What is a firewall and get answers to your Frequently Asked Questions about firewalls.
Step 2: Update your software
Visit Microsoft Update to confirm that you have automatic updating turned on and that you've downloaded and installed all the latest critical and security updates.