Though one cannot be 100 per cent safe, there are some simple rules one can follow while installing freeware, or any software for that matter, to ensure that spyware applications do not install themselves on your computer.
❍ Download software only from trusted and reliable sources. If at any point you are unsure about the legitimacy or the trustworthiness of a download source, it would be advisable to look elsewhere.
❍ Though it can be a pain, it is definitely worth the while to read the Terms of Agreement of the software. Look for sentences like “When you agree to these terms you agree to allow third-party software to be installed on your computer.” Immediately avoid such programs. These are added in the application installer and some of them will ask you as your will, simply uncheck the option.
❍ If you really want to install a software you downloaded, but are not sure of its integrity, you should ask someone who knows more about the subject. Even a simple Google search should bring up some answers. Popular forums, Yahoo Answers, Ask, Stack Overflow are some good platform to find audience of all sort of categories. The golden rule is: only install software the contents of which you’re sure of.
❍ Spam is one of the leading sources of spyware. A large amount of spyware (posing as Trojans) is spread through e-mail. So always try to avoid opening email from unknown sources, and never ever download any attachment accompanied with it.
❍ Use your discretion and a general sense of caution when clicking on Internet ads (if you do). A lot of banner ads have buttons that say “Cancel” or “No” that you’re prompted to click if you don’t want the product they offer. Do ~not~ click that button! More often than not, doing that will take you to another ad site. If you are unsure about what to do, just close your browser window.
❍ Everyone needs pop-up blockers, and luckily, most new versions of popular browsers have pop-up blockers already inbuilt. It is advisable to install the latest version of your Web browser. Updates will also fix vulnerabilities found by developers.