Who is Watching Your Online Movements?

by Franco on February 5, 2008

Part II

What can spyware programs do?

Spyware programs can accomplish a multitude of malicious tasks. Some of their deeds are simply annoying for the user; others can become very aggressive.

Spyware programs can:
1. Monitor your keystrokes for reporting purposes.
2. Scan files located on your hard drive.
3. Snoop through applications on our desktop.
4. Install other spyware programs into your computer.
5. Read your cookies.
6. Steal credit card numbers, passwords, and other personal information.
7. Change the default settings on your home page web browser.
8. Mutate into a second generation of spyware thus making it more difficult to eradicate.
9. Cause your computer to run slower.
10. Deliver annoying pop up advertisements.
11. Add advertising links to web pages for which the author does not get paid. Instead, payment is directed to the spyware programmer that changed the original affiliate’s settings.
12. Provide the user with no uninstall option and places itself in unexpected or hidden places within your computer making it difficult to remove.

Spyware Examples

Here are a few examples of commonly seen spyware programs. Please note that while researchers will often give names to spyware programs, they may not match the names the spyware-writers use.

CoolWebSearch, a group of programs, that install through “holes” found in Internet Explorer. These programs direct traffic to advertisements on Web sites including coolwebsearch.com. This spyware nuisance displays pop-up ads, rewrites search engine results, and alters the computer host file to direct the Domain Name System (DNS) to lookup preselected sites.
Internet Optimizer (a/k/a DyFuCa), likes to redirect Internet Explorer error pages to advertisements. When the user follows the broken link or enters an erroneous URL, a page of advertisements pop up.

180 Solutions reports extensive information to advertisers about the Web sites which you visit. It also alters HTTP requests for affiliate advertisements linked from a Web site. Therefore the 180 Solutions Company makes an unearned profit off of the click through advertisements they’ve altered.

HuntBar (a/k/a WinTools) or Adware. Websearch, is distributed by Traffic Syndicate and is installed by ActiveX drive-by downloading at affiliate websites or by advertisements displayed by other spyware programs. It’s a prime example of how spyware can install more spyware. These programs will add toolbars to Internet Explorer, track Web browsing behavior, and display advertisements.

How can You Prevent Spyware?

There are a couple things you can do to prevent from infecting your computer system. First, invest in a reliable commercial anti-spyware program. There are several currently on the market including stand alone software packages such as Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware or Windows Antispyware. Other options provide the anti-spyware software as part of an anti-virus package. This type of option is offered by companies such as Sophos, Symantec, and McAfee. Anti-spyware programs can combat spyware by providing real-time protection, scanning, and removal of any found spyware software. As with most programs, update your anti virus software frequently.

Although these are options that can be used, they really are not as reliable as a . Most services include unlimited service from trained technicians, personalized one on one care, quick and easy help as often as you need it, english speaking, US based service, no hidden per minute or per incident service fees, personal help by phone or by remote Internet connection to your PC.

As discussed, the Internet Explorer (IE) is often a contributor to the spyware problem because spyware programs like to attach themselves to its functionality. Spyware enjoys penetrating the IE’s weaknesses. Because of this, many users have switched to non-IE browsers. However, if you prefer to stick with Internet Explorer, be sure to update the security patches regularly, and only download programs from reputable sources. This will help reduce your chances of a spyware infiltration.

And, when all else fails?

Finally, if your computer has been infected with a large number of spyware programs, the only solution you may have is backing up your data, and performing a complete reinstall of the operating system.

For the most reliable service, check on Managed PC Care Services.

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