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Spyware is Sneaky Business in the 21st Century

Aug 17, 2007
Spyware and spyware removers are becoming big business in the 21st Century! With all the hype of getting something free on the Internet this has made it almost impossible for someone in today's Internet environment not to get a case of some form of spyware.

The Internet has been popularize by it's free resources. The place where you can find information, files and download them to your computer for free and a lot of companies and Internet marketers have taken advantage with this philosophy an have place tons of spyware inside their download products where it's almost certain that your next move will be getting a spyware remover or an anti spyware software of some kind. Before I go any further let me explain exactly what spyware is.

What is Spyware and What its capabilities?

In a nut shell, spyware is either software or are some applications that will gather and document user information, such as there internet surfing habits, keystrokes and private information (ie. username and passwords), without their knowledge.

Spyware has been around for some time and it started too appeared on the Internet around the early part of 1999, as a component of certain free downloadable files like games and tools that collected user information then transmitted it to a remote server or third party. Since then, the practice of including Spyware with free programs has become a common source of delivery, and very frustrating. Free games are by far is still the most common culprit, as are file-sharing programs, add-in toolbars for Internet Explorer, download accelerators, screensavers, and media players all free tools that the average user find very hard to resist.

What makes me sick is the fact that certain a deceiving hacker titled his Trojan horse program "Trojan Horse Remover," some of those certain Spyware developers dressed up their products as anti-spyware tools. Anti-Spyware tools or Spyware Removers that do not function as advertised or that actually include Spyware, Adware or other malicious code are often referred to as "rogue" anti-spyware tools, thanks to some great anti-Spyware combatants like Suzi Turner and Eric L. Howes of SpywareWarrior.com.

Do you know exactly what Spyware does?
To be frank, Lots of things-very few of them are of any good. I decide to list the ten most common symptoms/capabilities of Spyware software are:

1. Showing unwanted or disturbing advertising

Ads often appear out of no-where on their and in their own browser windows. Many Adware Spyware ads are pornographic Ads and they most likely will be "targeted" at the user based on which websites he or she visits. (for example: a user who visits swimming websites will be shown swimming-related ads)

2. Documenting private data and sending it to a third party to enter in their data base for targeting Ads directly to the user in the future. How about that for sneaky...

Most Spyware software can even collect technical information about the user's hardware and computer.
And the worst of it is that some threats will attempt to steal passwords and usernames, often for online banking purpose. Spyware keyloggers can document a user exact keystroke, while some surveillance programs can capture images of the user's display.

3. Changing your software browser settings like search page, homepage, error page and the worst for me, Favorites/Bookmarks

Threats with this behavior are called browser hijackers. To me here's the most frustrating situation is when the Spyware software changes your default settings, and when you get a Spyware remover and thinks that you relieve your self of the Spyware your browser setting will often be reset to the hijacked settings on reboot (Spyware that acts like this is really some of the best. Once this happen, you can bet that a changed search page may indicate that all Web searches are being watched closely.

4. Permitting a remote prowler to access the user's computer and engage in fraudulent actions, some of which can cause severe damage

Remote Administration Tools (RATs) are among the most treacherous Spyware threats. Remote influence can allow an prowler to shut down all your programs, change and erase your files, and steal any and all information stored on the a person's computer. It doesn't get any worst than that. Do I hear a cry for Spyware Remover?

5. Downloading and installing unwanted files or programs without notifying the user or asking permission

Downloading software components are often called or recognize as the "auto-update" features of larger programs. If a Spyware program is given permission to auto-update, it can download and install anything, including more Spyware or viruses, Trojan Horses and worms. Download Accelerators can easily auto-download unwanted files, as can specialize file-delivery programs. I want to make a clear point here: Downloader's are distinct from file-sharing programs like Kazaa and Grokster, which gives the capability to users to download files from each other.

6. Spyware Software can close down a program or process, and even cripple or shut down your computer.

Most of Spyware software that I've seen is poorly written and prone to crashing, often locking up the user's machine. There are some great Spyware software out there that has been written to intentionally disable your security software like firewalls and anti-virus programs. Remote Administration Tools (RATs) had the capability and often allow intruders/prowlers to shut down or restart the user's computer.

7. Uses a modem-connected phone-line to call pay-per-minute phone services or phone-based payment lines

Here's one that I just I feel is the most dangerous because programs called dialers can use a phone connected to the user's computer to call adult pay-per-minute phone services which can cause you a small fortune is you do not find a Spyware Remover. Specific pornographic websites allow customers to pay their monthly fee by using a dialer program. Most phone dialers are automatically installed by certain websites using Microsoft's ActiveX scripts.

8. Reveal certain security vulnerability in another program.

Many genuine applications that reside on your computer have loopholes or flaws in their code that hackers exploit for a variety of reasons. Security vulnerability of your PC is often used to access a user's computer and gain remote power. Some hackers attack security vulnerabilities in Microsoft's operating system just for recognition or to point out flaws in a respected application of theirs.

9. Has the capability to send Floods of Internet connection or network

Flooder programs (directly traffic) send massive amounts of data to a computer or network in an attempt to overload and disable the connection so that know one can login. Network floods can cost businesses thousands or even millions in lost productivity. The best known Flooder is the Denial of Service (DoS) attacks which are group attacks that employ multiple computers in an attempt to shutdown a website or network.

10. Dispense a Spyware software threat, worm, virus, or Trojan

Some Spyware applications attempt to send threats over normal file-sharing networks. Some threats can collect e-mail addresses stored on a user's computer and mass e-mail dangerous files. Worms and viruses are more likely to dispense threats, but some Spyware software show virus-like behavior. There your find yourself saying "How do I Protect myself From Spyware Software?"

For general and ordinary security, all you need is a little value time with your PC and a few megabytes of hard drive space. Pay attention and carry out the below steps to keep yourself safe from the majority of malicious spyware.

1) Firewall: This is a must piece of software get use to it.
A firewall is a piece of hardware or software that hides your PC from the prowling eyes of the Internet. If you are on the Internet your PCs have what is called an IP (Internet Protocol) address, this is a unique number that designates through which channels your PC is accessing the Internet. It is pretty easy for most people to on the Internet to discover you're IP, that where your firewall comes is at. Firewalls (when configure correct) will determine just how much they can do once they've got it. Although Windows XP has a built-in firewall which I do not use, I recommend you should take a look at third-party firewall applications from Zone Labs, it's becoming the industry standard and they provide a Free version that I use and have never had a problem. Zone Labs offers valuable protection from Web-based intrusion and hacking.

2) Spyware removal and anti-virus software is a must.
This is just the reality of modern computing: anti-virus software is extremely, tremendously necessary. Using e-mail or the Internet without a good anti-virus program running is just too risky. Here's a powerful, free anti-virus tools are available from Avast.com and Grisoft.com. Both programs are of great quality and won't cost you a one read cent.

3) If you are running on a Microsoft Windows platform keep it up to date.
Since spyware almost exclusively affects Windows-based PCs, it's important to make sure that you keep your operating system up to date. Since XP Microsoft Windows Update has been a semi-automated system that keeps Windows secure by providing critical patches and security updates, which address vulnerabilities and, more honestly, flaws in Microsoft programming. Get those critical updates installed, one way or another, then you can move on to more advanced security.

4) Provide Routine Spyware Protection.
Even with some of the best Spyware removal software It's nearly impossible to manually remove most spyware. You'll need an anti-spyware application to make sure your PC is clean, and regular spyware scans will keep it that way. Free trial and demo versions of powerful anti-spyware programs are available. Visit download.com to read reviews and find more downloadable anti-spyware tools. Visit paretologic.com to try XoftSpySE. I personally use XoftSpySE it finds everything.

5) Make yourself a committee of one and be knowledgeable.
Even with the anti-virus/anti-spyware/firewall big three protecting your PC, there's no substitute for knowledge. Understanding spyware and learning about the latest and most dangerous threats is the key to staying protected. Spend some time surfing the Web, look at sites like SpywareWarrior.com and SpywareInfo.com, and keep all your software patched and up to date.

To the unprepared, spyware poses a serious threat. Keep on top of it and you'll be free to troll the Internet and play World of War craft to your heart's content. And you can do homework too. That's always a good idea.
About the Author
Randy G. Hutchings is an Online Marketer that been
given reviews and written many articles about
Online Scams in Homebase Business and Spyware removers.
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