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What is spyware?

Spyware is any technology that aids in gathering information about a person or organization without their knowledge. Usually "spyaware" is software that installs on your computer without your knowledge or consent.

Brief history of spyware

The word "spyware" was founded in October 1995. It was used on Usenet in an article aimed Microsoft corporation.In the years that followed though, spyware often referred to "snoop equipment" such as tiny, hidden cameras.It re-appeared in a news release for a personal firewall product in early 2000, marking the beginning of the modern usage of
the word. Many Internet users were introduced to spyware in 1999, when a popular freeware game called "Elf Bowling" came bundled with tracking software.

Ways of infection

Spyware can be installed on computers in many different ways, including Trojan which install them without the users permission; when visiting web pages with certain ActiveX controls or code that exploits certain vulnerabilities; shareware or freeware applications downloaded from the Internet, etc.

Legally speaking, spyware cannot be entitled as a virus as it never replicates itself. As a result it remains undetected when anti-virus application is used. What's more, you actually agree to be spied upon while you click the 'I agree' button on the screen while you intend to install spyware software. It is very practical to state that people rarely reads the agreement while downloading. People never carry a lawyer while doing such things as downloading or installing.

Spyware behaviour

Software spyware can record keystrokes, log electronic chat conversations and log the contents of emails.Some spyware will take periodic screenshots of what is being displayed on the computer monitor. Software spyware can be used to monitor communications sent to and from the computer, to steal passwords and monitor other computer activities.

Computer symptoms

Your Computer Has a Mind of Its Own
Spyware, trojans and other pests contact other computers, and each pest is program of its own, therefore they use system resources such as CPU cycles, memory and an Internet connection.

Slow Computer
There are several reasons your computer may be running slow, but if you use it on a regular basis, then you're familiar with its noises, hang-ups and how it reacts. Older computers tend to run slower. Some applications cause computers to run slower. Computers are machines, they do not have moods. A sudden change in how your computer is running could be a sign of spyware or adware.

E-Mail Symptoms
If you're getting a lot of bounced back mail and see evidence of e-mails being sent without your knowledge, then it's possible that trojan spamware has found its way onto your computer. Spamware is a trojan that can turn your computer into a spam launching pad and create headaches for unknowing computer users, especially if a virus is sent. Even if your computer is not being used to send spam, trojans can steal a copy of your e-mail address book and send it back to a spammer.

Noises, Bells and Whistles
Victims of some trojans report CD drives opening and shutting, or programs opening and closing. Is your hard drive whirling away when you're not doing anything? Is there an unknown icon in your Windows system tray (lower right corner of your screen)? If you have an external modem, there may be lights indicating data tranfers blinking when you're not doing anything online. These are all signs a program may be up to no good in the background.

Offline Symptoms
Keyboard loggers can capture passwords and user names, so if the bank, brokerage or credit card accounts you access online appear to have been tampered with, your computer may be a place to start looking for clues. User names and passwords to e-mail and Web-based applications are also vulnerable.

If you have any reason to believe someone is interested in tracking what you do online, scan for spyware regularly.

Typical examples of spyware

  • Hide inside another program's installer.
  • Use confusing legalese.
  • Keep asking until you say Yes.
  • Create a false pretense for needing the software.
  • Look essential, or be invisible.
  • Don't uninstall, even when asked.

How to prevent your computer from spyware?

There are some advices to prevent your computer from spyware:

  • Surf and download safely. Only go to websites you trust. Free, file-sharing programs are often bundled with sneaky spyware.
  • Read all End User License Agreements and Privacy Statements carefully before installing new software.
  • Never click "agree" or "OK" to close a pop-up window because that can trigger spyware. Only click on the red "x" in the corner or click on Alt + F4 to close the window safely.
  • Update your software regularly to make sure you have all the latest critical and security updates.
  • Adjust your browser security settings to Medium or higher (click on Internet Options under Tools. Select the Security tab).
  • Do not let other people use your computer.
  • Do not open spam e-mail messages or attachments from people you do not know. It is even wise to check with those you do know that the attachment actually came from them.
  • Be aware of sophisticated phishing scams via e-mail (messages that actually look like they are from your bank, internet provider, etc).
  • Choose passwords with both numbers and letters, or to be even more secure pick a "pass phrase". Never use birthdays, family or pet names.
  • Never log into your bank or other financial accounts from public computers or from wireless networks where login information can be stolen.

Everyone heard the adage "The best offense is a good defense" and that's most often true. You can find a wide range of programs here on Fix-Computer-Problem.com that can detect and eliminate viruses, adware, trojans and other dangerous programs.


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