Thursday, July 19, 2007
Spyware has become an epidemic on the Internet. A lot of computer users have Spyware and don’t even know they have it, much less how to get rid of it. If your computer has been taking you to websites that you don’t want to go to, or if you get pop-ups when you aren’t even on the Internet, or if your computer has been running extremely slowly lately, for no reason, you probably have Spyware.
So what, exactly, is Spyware? Spyware is a wide range of benign to malicious programs that get unknowingly downloaded and/or installed on your computer and perform various tasks. They are similar to viruses, but antivirus software doesn’t detect these little bugs. Spyware can be in many forms, from basic information-gathering applets to intelligent, self-protecting and controlling programs.
Primarily, the intent of Spyware is to collect information about your Internet-browsing habits and report that information back to the home base, where it is sold for advertising purposes. In doing so, some of your Internet connection bandwidth is taken up in constantly sending this information. And if you only have a dial-up connection, I have seen the entire dial-up connection used just for this purpose, leaving nothing for the paying customer with which to surf.
Still, other types of Spyware actually take over your Internet-browsing experience and force you to go to websites that advertise for the makers of the Spyware (or their customers), and no matter how many times you close the windows, they keep coming back. They are like pop-ups that won’t go away. And a lot of times, these windows can appear even before getting on the Internet. This should be illegal!
So what can be done about Spyware? Well, if it is caught in time, a user can install AntiSpyware software to get rid of the Spyware. And as a preventative measure, AntiSpyware software should be installed BEFORE getting Spyware and the computer should be scanned on a regular basis for Spyware.
On all of the computers that I setup, I install two different AntiSpyware programs: AdAware SE and SpyBot. These two programs are highly recommended by TechTV (G4) and other computer authorities (including my own research on Spyware) and work very well together. They compliment each other and catch Spyware that the other misses, but together, do a very good job.