Dragonboy IT & Electronics Journey

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Spyware - Including Free detection and removal application

What is spyware? Spyware is not a virus like in my previous posting. It doesnt spread out by itself, instead spyware is a program that is being installed without you knowing and it will secretly do some monitoring for your activity for 3rd party commercial gain.

The activity could be:
1. Your browsing surfing habit. It will send the result of your browsing habit to a 3rd party most of the time for marketing purpose.

2. Steal some personal information i.e. credit card number, bank account information.

How can you get a spyware?
1. When you are surfing the web, there are some websites, will shows a pop up screen trying to install some application in the mask of "some goodies", or "patches for your windows". When you click yes to install. Oopssss, the spyware program will be installed secretly. The next time you reboot your computer, the spyware program will run by itself and start monitoring you.

2. When you install some of the P2P program i.e. kazaa. Because if you notice, once you run Kazaa, a lot of pop up screen will appears. So its monitoring your surfing habit.

3. Exploit some loophole in the applications/Operating System.
Same like virus, when it found a loophole perhaps in the browser, a spyware can exploit the loophole in order to install itself in the victim's computer.

How do you know you got a spyware? Some of the spyware is obvious, it reveals itself that its indeed have infected your computer.
1. You will notice your computer is slower
2. You will notice that your computer boot slower than usual.
3. Pop Up screen start to appear as soon as you are connected to the internet.
4. Your initial page or error page from internet explorer redirect you to some advertising website.

Typically, the one that is very obvious is the pop up screen, most of the time, there will be a lot of pop up, and they are HARD to kill. You try to close one, the other one appears.

If you asked me? Have I ever got spyware in my computer? The answer is "yes", there are some incident, that, your hand moves too fast, instead of clicking "NO", by accident I click "Yes". *Sigh*, it took me several hours to clean up my machine after that, and make sure all the spyware gone.

Is there any way to detect that you have a spyware?
Yes, there are a lot of programs out there that will help your computer are infected by Spyware.

These are some programs that will help you:
1. Microsoft Anti Spyware -> Free
URL: Microsoft Defender

2. Search and Destroy -> Free
URL: http://www.safer-networking.org/

3. Symantec Anti Virus -> Trial version
URL: http://www.symantec.com

4. AVG Antivirus -> Free
URL: http://www.grisoft.com/doc/1

5. Lavasoft -> Free for personal use is available
URL: http://www.lavasoft.com/

6. etc, etc.

Remember, none of them are perfect, so sometimes, you will need to have more than 2 programs in order to catch all the latest spyware. Spyware is also evolving. Their technique are getting better and better too.

Last note: Eventhough some of the program are free, but if you could support their product by giving them donation, or buy the professional edition, that would be nice. We need to give them support of what they do, right.

Once you have already downloaded the programs above, do not forget, that you need:
1. Update Your Windows
Since spyware is increasing and evolving, you need to update your Windows as well. Spyware is like a virus, it will try to exploit Windows O/S. If you did not update, it will be useless.

2. Update your Anti-Spyware Program
Just like Windows, Anti Spyware programs needs to be updated in order to update all the new signature of a spyware program.

How to prevent spyware?
1. Turn on your pop up blocker. Only turn off your pop up blocker when you know that you need to see the pop up. Some websites needs the popup blocker to be turned off.

2. If you download some emails or programs from internet. Run your antivirus and check the file. Even MS Word or Excel can contains macro that can download a spyware program. So do not let your guard down. Always check your file before you run it.

How to turn on Pop Up Blocker?
a. Internet Explorer 6 with SP2 have a built in pop up blocker -> Free
b. Symantec Security have a pop up blocker -> If you have the license is free :P
c. Yahoo Toolbar -> Free
d. MSN Toolbar -> Free
e. Google Toolbar -> Free

If you got any comments, just leave it in the comments section.



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