Computer Protection: Spyware

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Computer Protection: Spyware Empty Computer Protection: Spyware

Post by WebZ on Wed Jul 30, 2008 9:17 pm

For the most part, spyware installs and runs in the background of your system without your knowledge or permission. Recall in the last sentence that we said "for the most part". There are also a number of instances where you may have given spyware permission to install itself on your computer without your knowledge. How is this possible? Well, let us answer that question by asking you a few questions:

* Have you ever downloaded freeware (software that is free to download) and installed it on your computer?
* Do you read through all of the licensing and use agreements before clicking that "I Agree" button for accessing certain parts of websites or prior to downloading software?
* Have you ever downloaded and installed anti-spyware tools?

If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, then there is the possibility that you gave spyware permission to install itself on your computer without your knowledge. Now, you're probably thinking to yourself "What's the deal with that third bullet? Don't anti-spyware tools remove spyware from your computer?!" Well, with having the title "Anti-spyware", you would think that they should be able to remove spyware. The only problem is that there are a large number of so-called "anti-spyware" programs that do little to remove spyware on your computer, and can even make your spyware problem worse. The so-called "Anti-spyware" tools that don't live up to their expectations are usually free (but not always).

Unfortunately, just like with pretty much everything, spyware has evolved over time. While there are still large amounts of spyware on the Internet that just collect basic details such as your browsing habits, there are other forms that collect more sensitive information about you. These sophisticated enhancements now allow spyware to collect and transfer personal information about you such as Instant Message and chat conversations, user names and passwords, and even your credit card information.

So, what can you do to help prevent, detect, and remove spyware? Along with that, how do you know what programs are legitimate without making situations worse? For starters, you can do the following:

Do the research: If there is a program you want to download, don't download it until you scope out the company. Does the website look legitimate? Is there customer support you can contact for the program(s)? Can the company that is providing the program be trusted? Look at the company's website and read about them so you can have an understanding on not only what their program will do for you, but also if the company is legitimate or not.

Keep your browser up-to-date: Security patches are constantly released so that your web browser can be protected from the spyware that takes advantage of known weaknesses.

Read the licensing and use agreements: If you have to click an "I Agree" button before downloading something, there is a reason for that. Through reading the agreements, you can discover the ways that information will be collected from you.

Disable ActiveX unless you need it: This is more of an advanced thing to do. While ActiveX is used by a lot of sites for functionality purposes, it is also used to automatically install spyware onto your system. Since disabling ActiveX is different for each type of browser, just go to Google and do a search for how to disable ActiveX with your browser.

While it is extremely difficult to prevent and detect all spyware, you can use tools that will accompany you in identifying and removing spyware already on your system.

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