You’ve probably heard all the horror stories of people having their identities stolen by preying online hackers. The threat presented by hackers are greater than ever and with internet usage increasing daily, the opportunity for hackers to get hold of your personal information is easier than ever.

Since most people use the internet for online banking and online shopping, your financial information gets over the internet almost on a daily basis. You simply have to protect yourself. And it’s not just the threat of spyware. Adware, although less dangerous can be incredibly annoying and have a serious effect on the performance of your computer to the extent where it can completely cripple your computer  and slow it down to a crawl.

So how can you tell if you have spyware on your computer? How do you know if a hacker might be spying on your personal information and how do you know if your computer is infected with adware?

Here are some of the most obvious tell tale signs that your computer is infected with spyware and/or adware:

Homepage Changes
When you start your browser, the home page has mysteriously changed. You change it back manually, but before long you find that it has changed back again.

Constantly getting Pop-Ups
You get pop-up advertisements when your browser is not running or when your system is not even connected to the Internet, or you get pop-up ads that address you by name.

Weird Search Results
When you enter a search term in Internet Explorer’s address bar and press Enter to start the search. Instead of your usual search site (like Google or Yahoo), an unfamiliar site handles the search.

Slow Computer
Your system runs a lot slower than it did before. If you’re a Windows 2000/XP user, launching the Task Manager and clicking the Processes tab reveals that an unfamiliar process is using nearly 100 percent of your CPU resources.

Unknown Favorites
A new item appears in your Favorites list and Bookmarks without your putting it there. No matter how many times you delete it, the item always reappears.

Unknown Toolbars
A search toolbar or other browser toolbar or sidebar appears when you open your web browser even though you didn’t request or install it. Even when you do remove it or try and uninstall it, it just keeps coming back.

Unknown System Tray Icons – when unknown icons appear at the bottom right hand of your screen in the system tray. when you click on them they typically presnt themselves as legitimate “software”.

Your Internet Connection Is Constantly Trying To Connect
Even when you are not connected to the internet you constantly get pop ups trying to connect you to the internet.