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The Spy Who Robbed Me: What You Need To Know About Spyware

  • Posted April 19, 2006
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With the exception of those who are competing in reality TV
shows, who wants to be watched? Who wants to be seen in their
most vulnerable and private moments? Who wants to be deprived of
his privacy and his freedom to keep things for himself?

Most importantly, who wants to jeopardize his security by
unwittingly exposing the things he should be keeping a secret to
someone who’s watching from afar?

Before you start thinking that we’re referring to a psychopathic
voyeur who is observing you from the building adjacent to your
house, let us clarify that we’re going to discuss about spyware.
Yes. Spyware: a program which has been the bane to Internet
users for the past three years.

Spyware is one of those things that were invented for a good
purpose, but was eventually exploited in time. Spyware was
originally meant as a tool that would allow you to monitor the
usage of your PC terminal while you’re away from the keyboard so
that you can prevent illegal access to the same.

Eventually, it found other borderline uses, like catching a
cheating spouse or significant other, prying on your daughter’s
liaisons, and watching over your children’s Internet activities
from a remote computer.

>From pure to gray to black, spyware has now become a backdoor to
high technology security protocols. It does this without hacking
any system, rather, by deluding a user into unwittingly
installing the spyware program on his PC.

>From there, the program would work invisibly, sending key logs,
or log files of the characters you have punched on your
keyboard, to someone else on a remote terminal. This is why
spyware is also called as a key logger program.

Eventually, spyware evolved into more damaging forms. Today, you
would have invisible scripts redirecting you to certain websites
which you have not chosen to view, or pop-ups that keep
sprouting left and right even if you’re viewing a pop-up free
website.

This has led the Anti-Spyware Coalition, a group of industry
giants who are adversely affected by this digital malady as
well, to define spyware as something that “impairs users control
over material changes that affect their user experience, privacy
or system security; use of their system resources, including
what programs are installed on their computers; or collection,
use and distribution of their personal or otherwise sensitive
information.”

The security risks posed by spyware programs cannot be ignored.
Imagine engaging in an online transaction wherein you send your
credit card details in a secured network, only to stand losing
such details once you log off as your key logs would be sent to
someone else. Also, personal details can also be stolen,
resulting into a greater risk for your actual safety.

But it is the violation of your rights that is the biggest
issue. With spyware, your freedom of choice and to feel secure
about your personal effects is deprived of you. This has no room
in a civilized society.

Indeed, spyware is a modern day disease that should be curbed.
It now comes in a variety of forms aside from the aforementioned
key loggers:

ADWARE – is an invisible program that sends specific
banners for you to see. It may sound innocent, but this program
actually compels your PC to send personal details to the mother
source so that the latter may know which ads to display.

HIJACKERS – these are programs that take control of your
browsers, opening up pages which you do not choose to view.

MALWARE – these are programs which are not spyware per
se, but operate under the same principle. They are persistent
scripts that don’t seem to stop until your data are destroyed.
Examples of these programs are Trojans and worm viruses.

There are a lot of free tools in the World Wide Web that would
allow you to rid your computer of these malicious programs.
Sometimes, however, the process of cleaning up results in the
loss of valuable files.

The maxim “an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of
cure” seems to be the best policy against spyware. Always update
your anti-virus system, so that spyware may not be allowed to
incubate in your hard drive.

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  • Posted On April 19, 2006
  • Published articles 283513

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