Spyware is one of the biggest threats to your privacy and the
security of your data. Here’s a series of helpful questions and
answers that can help you remove and minimize future spyware
from your computer.
Spyware comes in various forms, but basically it is a program or
piece of information on your computer that either sends data
about you or your computer habits to someone else on the
Internet. This can be a company that is collecting data, or a
thief seeking to steal access to your computer or data like bank
information on it. Spyware can also be a program that places
unwanted ads on your computer. Cookies can be considered
spyware. They are little piece of information placed in your web
browser to track your web habits. This is useful sometimes as a
web site can see you have visited it before and let you on
without a registration process. Cookies are also used to keep
track of your progress through a web store. They are also used
to customize website ads to your likes and dislikes.
Spyware is bad because for one it can hog precious system
resources like memory and hard disk space. It can also
compromise your privacy, providing outsiders with information
about your computer habits. If a spyware program installs a
keylogger it can capture your keystrokes and send it to a third
party. This can potentially expose your user IDs and passwords
to thieves. Some spyware are trojans which allows someone to log
into your computer remotely and use it for their own purposes
like sending spam or launching malicious attacks on other
computers on the Internet, making it look like you are at fault.
There are several techniques how spyware get’s on your computer.
Sometimes they arrive as an automatic download from a website
you are surfing. Typically this happens a lot on porn sites.
Sometimes if you download a free or illegal piece of software,
they are embedded in the installation process. Or spyware can
get on your computer via an email attachment that you shouldn’t
have opened. Sometimes a spyware program is very obvious and it
can be deleted manually. It adds itself to your menu bar and be
found listed in your Add/Remove Programs list in your Windows
Control Panel. Click START, (then if you have Win95/98/Me click
Settings) then Control Panel then Add/Remove Programs and look
for a program that you don’t recognize. Sometimes its
obvious….like “XXX dialer” or something like that. Just use
the Add/Remove Programs features to remove it. Sometimes its not
as evident and you have to go diving into the registry and
delete entries and also search for specific files on your hard
drive and remove them. There are good list of spyware removal
techniques that can be found on the internet.
There are a few things you can do to stop spyware. Don’t
download programs by companies you are not familiar with. Avoid
shareware and freeware. Don’t download illegal pirated software.
Set your browser security to high. One Internet Explorer, click
Tools > Internet Options > then the Security tab and move the
slider to MEDIUM or preferably HIGH. The only problem with this
is it may block access to some websites you want to see.
Ultimately your best bet is to get an anti-spyware program and
scan your system regularly.