Spywareor adware refers to programs that are installed on your machine for the express purpose of
tracking your online movements. Spyware is typically installed without your knowledge. It can
become a real problem by slowing down your machineís performance and slowing down your online
activity because the network connection is being shared by the programs that are sending information
back to the third-party vendors who paid to place the programs on your machine.
How Spyware or Adware Works
Spyware or adware is installed on your machine in a number of different ways:
Ā° The most common by far is through the installation of programs that hide the spyware file within
the main program.
Ā° Through peer-to-peer sharing programs (such as Morpheus), certain websites install spyware
Ā° Some forms of cookies are considered spyware as well.
One company called Double-Click created a version of spyware by connecting cookies from tens of
thousands of websites. This information is used to "spy" on you while you surf the Internet. Although
this ploy was bad, it still only spied on your Internet browsing. Other more aggressive forms of spyware
can and do collect personal information on you by scanning files, e-mails, and e-mail address books.
How to Get Rid of Spyware and Adware
Although some ISPs provide spyware blockers, we strongly recommend the purchase of a commercial
spyware sweeper. If you have been using the Internet for any amount of time and have not run a
spyware blocker on your machine, you will likely be shocked by the number of spyware files found
on your machine when you first install the sweeper.
We found one site that has a nice comparison of various spyware sweepers called Adawarereport.com.
You may also want to do some research by going to http://www.google.com and doing a search on
Ultimately, your willingness to put up with spyware is a matter of your personal tolerance, but keep
in mind that after the information leaves your machine, there is no telling where it goes or who sees
it. You really should err on the side of caution.
Set Up Spyware and Adware Blocking on Your Home
So far, we have mitigated very serious security risks. We have set up firewalls, antivirus protection,
and spam blockers. Now onward to some less serious threats, but nonetheless irritating. Fortunately,
the security product bundles we have been talking much about do incorporate protection for spyware
and adware also.
It is assumed that you already installed the security product bundle you have selected. Table 16-2 shows
the process for enabling spyware and adware blocking on both the Symantec and McAfee products.
To see if your computer contains spyware or adware, we highly recommend the Spybot Search &
Destroy program, which is available here:
After installation, you can run a scan of your computer by double-clicking on the Spybot S&D icon,
and then clicking Check for Problems (see Figure 16-6).
When the scan completes, click Fix Selected Problems to erase the spyware or adware.