The Home Computer Users Guide To Spyware

As with the​ computer virus,​ spyware can be broken down into a​ number of​ different categories. Most users are familiar with the​ term “adware” which refers to​ software which serves annoying ads. There are however a​ number of​ other spyware variants you should be aware of.

To begin with it​ is​ important to​ have a​ clear definition of​ spyware. This will also help us understand why the​ term is​ commonly used to​ encompass a​ number of​ different variants. Spyware is​ a​ program,​ usually installed without your knowledge,​ which records what you do on​ your computer and then shares it​ with its creator.

The information which the​ spyware program collects can vary from the​ websites you visit to​ log-in and passwords for your online banking site. the​ sharing of​ your personal information with a​ third party is​ why spyware in​ its purest form is​ labelled as​ a​ malicious threat and clearly is​ a​ major privacy issue.

Adware is​ the​ second mostly commonly used term. Adware is​ designed to​ display adverts relevant you,​ commonly based on​ your surfing habits,​ to​ generate Pay-Per-Click advertising revenue or​ sales through affiliate links. Adware is​ commonly bundled with free software by developers instead of​ charging a​ price.

The malicious nature of​ adware can vary enormously. at​ one of​ the​ scale,​ adverts are displayed in​ a​ non-intrusive manner in​ a​ window within the​ free program you have downloaded. When the​ program is​ not running,​ ads are not displayed. at​ the​ other end of​ the​ scale,​ a​ user could find their desktop overwhelmed as​ the​ adware program spews out multiple pop up ads in​ a​ very aggressive manner. Whilst it​ may be possible to​ believe the​ former is​ not transmitting personal data to​ a​ third party,​ it​ is​ difficult to​ expect the​ later not to.

The adware issue is​ further complicated by marketing companies who do not like their software being labelled “spyware.” These marketing companies generate millions of​ dollars of​ income often via recognised brand name clients. So to​ avoid legal issue security companies refer to​ this software as​ PUPs (potentially unwanted programs).

Browser hijackers are another aggressive form of​ spyware. They attack important browser settings like your default homepage which your browser loads when you start the​ program. Hackers direct you to​ sites which generate revenue for them like the​ Russian website “Cool Web Search”. Browser hijackers can also insert sites into your bookmarks. They also can cause your browser to​ crash and stop working completely and are typically difficult to​ remove.

Key Loggers capture all your key strokes into a​ DLL file which the​ creator retrieves. Software key loggers are often bundled with a​ Trojan Virus which gives the​ creator access to​ your computer.

Here are some tips and strategies to​ fight the​ different types of​ spyware.
- Keep Windows XP and ALL your web browsers (including Internet Explorer and FireFox) up to​ date with the​ latest patches.
- Install a​ reputable anti-spyware program like Webroot Spy Sweeper or​ PC Tools Spyware Doctor. Run frequent scans and keep the​ definitions up to​ date.
- Install a​ reputable anti-virus program like Norton Anti-Virus or​ McAfee VirusScan. Run frequent scans and keep the​ definitions up to​ date.
- Install a​ firewall which manages both inbound and outbound connections. Top personal firewall software picks include Zone Labs’s Zone Alarm and Norton Personal Firewall. Alternatively purchase a​ router with a​ hardware firewall.
- Avoid downloading free software programs including screensavers and weather toolbars.
- Avoid know high spyware risk area on​ the​ internet including illegal music sharing sites,​ Peer-to-Peer programs,​ free game download sites and adult sites.

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