November 1, 2017

Knowing Spyware and How to Deal with It

It happens to the best of us, no matter how safe we think we are, no matter how cautious we think we’re being Spyware will find you! There are so many different spyware programs around it is absolutely ridiculous, It seems as though no one can surf the web for fear of being hijacked, infested or violated in some way. If you don’t have a good anti-virus or filter program of some sort, a Goolge search can be devastating! But there is hope, information is you best tool, knowledge, your best weapon. The more you know about common anti-virus and anti-spyware programs the better chance you have of winning this battle.

The first thing is try to avoid spyware in the first place. Don’t download anything you don’t trust, stay away from adult oriented websites, and keep updated antivirus programs on hand. A few really good anti-spyware programs are Ad-aware SE, Spy-Bot Search and Destroy, and AVG. All these programs are free and can be obtained at download.com. AVG is a trail program giving you limited features, but it still works very well.

Do you really know what spyware is? Spyware is computer software that collects user information without them knowing. In most cases spyware is installed onto your computer without you even knowing, and it records your activates, keystrokes, and even assess files on your hard drive. In most cases this is to relay information to a company about the products you would be most interested in, but many times the information is used to intercept passwords and credit card information.

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Spyware was first heard of in 1995, but has gained more dominance in the modern day era. Reports by AOL indicate that spyware, and ad-ware are then number 1 security concern for the modern day computer user, also those running Internet Explorer (IE) are the most vulnerable. This is not only due to the wide use of IE but also because the program is tightly connected to the windows system, allowing spyware, Trojans, and ad-ware to install itself into key components of your operating system.

The methods used to infiltrate your system vary greatly. Many times the spyware or ad-ware piggybacks off of another program, like Kazza and Limewire. You will download the program, but also unknown to you spyware is installing with the program. Also many forms of spyware come from downloading programs that claim to “enhance your web experience” like web accelerators and such. Also popup ads may appear on your computer while you visit a site. This pop up box will have a message like “Do you want to optimize your internet experience?” with two links containing the options yes and no. These options are not really options at all because when you click on either one you have in fact just agreed to download spyware into your computer! Read more¬†how to read text messages from another phone online for free

Cookies can be another form of spyware. They track your progress on the internet and transmit information back to specific websites. Cookies are not software so they will exist on your computer without you knowing, one great program to eliminate cookies is “Clean up!” also available for free on download.com. This program will delete any cookies you have and help free up tons of space on your computer.

The following are a few examples of common spyware that can easily get onto your computer without you ever knowing

Cool websearch – this is a group of programs that takes advantage of Internet Explorer vulnerabilities. This package of files will redirect the user to its host website; call up ads, and change search engine results.

Need to find bar – much the same as Cool websearch

Surf sidekick – This program will in bed itself deep into your computer and requires a lot of work to remove. It acts just like the Need to find bar, except that it is much harder to remove and ten times more annoying.

Internet Optimizer – redirects internet explorer error pages to advertisements

Zango – also has been known to go by the name 180 solutions transmits your web browsing activities in detail to selected companies. It tracks your web history and will open tons of popup ads.

Spy sheriff – A fake program that will install itself onto your computer claiming to be a free anti-spyware program. After running a fake scan of your system it will tell you how many problems you have and how much they want you to pay for their product, all a scam. This program is tricky to remove because even if you delete it from your add/remove programs list, it may re-install itself upon reboot. You have to make sure that every trace of this program is gone before you reboot.

Hun bar also known as Win Tools or Adware websearch – this is a group of spyware that is distributed by a group known as the Traffic Syndicate. This package of spyware will track browser behavior, display popup adds and even install various other spyware programs affiliated within this specific group

There are thousands more spyware companies and software floating around the internet but those are a few of the most common. They are easily removed, for the most part, with one of the above spyware tools, and also many of today’s anti-virus programs like Macafee and Norton come with anti-spyware features. But there is another form of spyware that is very hard to remove and will cause you many restless nights if your infected. Malware is one of the most dangerous forms of spyware; it is a combination of the words malicious and software.

Malware will install itself onto you computer much the same as spyware, except malware includes more devious ways of getting personal information. Prime examples of malware are programs that offer to remove spyware and malware, but in fact only make the problem worse by taking your personal information, money, and in some cases install more spyware onto your computer.

Many times when malware has been installed you computer will act extremely buggy and may even crash. Upon reboot you will see your background image replaced with a solid blue or black color that displays a warning in the middle reading something like this

“Warning Windows Detected Multiple Threats to your System It Is Highly Recommended That You Install One Of These Anti-Virus/Anti-Spyware Programs Immediately.”

Then a link is provided or the warning will say click here and bring you to a list of supposed products that can relieve you of this horrible infection. These products are a scam, they do not exist or do not work, and these people just want your money! Unfortunately this form of intrusion can be very convincing, you the user has no idea what’s going on, your computer just crashed, and now you have this horrible message on your background that won’t go away because you think there is something terribly wrong with your computer. It is very understandable why so many people fall victim to these scams. Here is a list of a few fake anti-spyware/malware programs

Spy Sheriff
Spy Wiper
Errorsafe
Win Antivirus Pro 2006 – Not a Microsoft product
World Anti-spy
Win Fixer

Do not buy any of these products! They are all false hopes and will only take your money and run.

If you do get infected by malware, or massive amounts of spyware here are a few good ideas to help you fix the problem. I do warn you though these solutions will only restore your system partially, I have had a lot of experience with spyware and malware before, but by no means am I an expert. The best thing to do would be to find an online forum that specializes in the field of dealing with spyware. These guys are the pro’s and will be able to help you out more then I ever could, you just have to search for the right forum that specifies your topic. But anyways here are a few good tips

Don’t buy any advertised product from one of these supposed companies, they are all just scams. Also never give out your personal information no matter how dire the situation may seem, that’s the way these people work. They make a situation seem hopeless for you then scare you into submission. There are plenty of solutions around so be sure to remain calm.

Turn off your computer in the normal manner if possible, if your computer is frozen or you can’t turn it off because of an onslaught of popup adds or are unable to close down your internet try Ctrl+Alt+Delete then select the shutdown option. If you are still unsuccessful then you have to manually turn off your computer, by holding the power button down or unplugging the thing. Unplug your internet cable, or in some fashion make sure that your computer is not hooked up to the internet, as this will only slow things down and cause other possible security breeches

Upon reboot make sure to put your computer into safe mode. To get to safe mode you may have to repeatedly press the F8 key from the time you turn on your computer until you get the option to boot into safe mode. Once in safe mode run every anti-virus and anti-spyware program you have, you will be shocked at everything it detects in safe mode as compared to what it would detect if the computer was running in normal mode. Ad-Aware SE and Spybot Search and Destroy will pick up most everything, and if you have malware AVG will clean up the hard to find stuff. Also delete your cookies, either manually or by using the program “Clean up!” either way is fine but “Clean Up!” would be my preferred choice.

If you think you may be infected then check out your add/remove programs list. If you see something you don’t remember installing then chances are it could be spyware. Especially look for programs that claim to be ant-spyware software that you had no idea existed, and any kind of toolbar that you did not install. These are the two most common programs found here that indicate infection.

I hope this offered some insight and was helpful to everyone. And remember that the most effective way of dealing with spyware, malware or anything of the sort is good old fashioned common sense.

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Eugene Ladd