SPYWARE / ADWARE

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Spyware/Adware

 

Spyware or 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 machines 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:

The most common by far is through the installation of programs that hide the spyware file within

the main program.

Through peer-to-peer sharing programs (such as Morpheus), certain websites install spyware

programs.

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

spyware blockers.

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

Computers

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:

http://www.safer-networking.org/en/download/index.html

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.

 

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