Spyware is a general term for a program that is designed to gather data about you and track where you go on the Internet, usually without your specific knowledge. One category of Spyware is called “Adware” which is used to push advertisements to your computer in the form of pop-up ads.
Of course, the fact that you see pop-up ads does not mean that you have Spyware on your computer. Many Web sites that you visit will load pop-up ads when you visit them. While these can be an annoyance, they are related to the specific sites that you visit. For more information and links to free tools to prevent these types of Web site generated pop-up ads, click here.
However, if you find that pop-up ads are appearing even when you have not surfed to a Web site, you may have Spyware on your computer. Internet users often install Spyware on their own computer without realizing it. Many of the free programs that are available on the Internet include a Spyware component. The service agreement that you are asked to read before downloading and using the software may even mention the fact that the program will track your behavior or push advertisements. But, since most people do not read the service agreement, they install the software without realizing that it includes a Spyware component.
There are free programs that will scan your computer for Spyware and allow you to remove any that are found. Links to two of the better Spyware detection and removal tools that are known to be free of their own Spyware are listed below: