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Spyware is a constantly increasing problem and is becoming more and more malicious by the day aswell as more of a problem than viruses. It can also slow your computer down to a crawl and even cookies are a form of spyware. However, cookies are necessary for websites to function correctly for the user and are relatively safe. They are also temporary files so they can be safely removed from the system between website visits.
It is recommended that you use only one antivirus application, yet it is recommended that you use two or three antispyware applications to scan your computer regularly. There is so much spyware out there that it would be impossible for one antispwyware application to be able to detect it all.
My latest dealing with spyware caused my desktop background to go red and display the message 'your privacy is in danger' while it proceeded to install rogue application after rogue application. A rogue antispyware application is a nasty form of spyware which pops up telling you there are errors or infections on your computer, then decides to install even more spyware by posing as legitimate applications.
There are a few decent antispyware scanners and removers out there available for free that do a sufficient job. I would recommend any of the following: Ad-aware, Spyware Doctor, Spybot Search & Destroy, Spyware Terminator and Malware Bytes Antimalware.
Spyware are those malicious files you may get while surfing the net or installing some particular programs.
* What exactly is a spyware ?
Spyware is a program that install itself in your pc , this kind of programs send off information about yourself and your way of surf the net.
* What the difference between a spyware and a common virus ?
Easy a common virus is able to infect your pc and is very hard to remove (especially some of the actuals worms are really difficult to remove ) and beside you don't know how they work or what they do and send out, spywares instead just send out some basically information about how you surf the net, what kind of website you watch, what kind of shopping sites you browse and so on, they don't send out detailed information like your bank account or your credit card number but simply information advertisers may find useful to give customers more targeted advertising.
* are they dangerous for my private information ?
As I already specified before, they are just a violation of your privacy but they do not harm some technical data like bank accounts o credit cards numbers.
* how do I remove them ?
Removing them is easy , the hard part is find them, there are o lot of tools nowadays that do this work for you, some are free some others are not some of the more common are:
* Lavasoft Ad-aware: this program is a very good program and is updated generally weekly in the free form available for private users.
* Spyware Terminator: another program updated most of the time is this and is able to remove spyware and some very basic trojan thing that most of the removal programs don't usually do.
* Ccleaner: this program can be used to remove tracing cookie that sometimes act as spyware but really is better to use a more powerful one.
* Spybot search and destroy: a program that can find most of the spyware and it has a useful functions to immunize if possible against most threats before your pc can actually be infected.
These are only some of the programs you can use to discover and remove spywares from you pc, there are a lot more but be careful sometimes some of the programs you may find by searching in google are actually what causes the problem in the first place, some of the programs claim they remove spywares or virus but instead the directly install them, so I suggest you use some of the programs I explained before.
All the programs I explained before have some kind of real time protection if you decide to use it aside from ccleaner, this is a useful tool to help you be protected while you surf but most of the times uses a lot of memory and slow down the pc.
*How do I get the spywares ?
Simply by surfing the net, you can get virus, spywares, worms, trojans and maybe more, but generally if you stay on safe sites is difficult to get them, even there some basic form of them may be installed anyway by the advertisers of those websites without even the author know it.
Another way to get them is by deliberately installing them with some free programs, some authors instead of asking for money and in the far that is programs is pirated decide to get the money from the advertisers and may put spyware in it's program to get some money, keep in mind that some programs may work even if you remove the spyware while some others may not.
How can I limit the chance of be infected with them ?
Easy , you can use one of the programs before and leave on the real time protection.
You can use Firefox instead of internet explorer (internet explorer can use activex controls to install programs in your pc and tell you nothing).
You can use Linux instead of windows, Linux an alternative operative system(actually is more a kernel than a OS but let say operative system that is close enough) that is much more protected even if it is open source, but in this case you have to install a new OS and learn how to use it and if you are not comfortable with the pc may require some time and unluckily you may not even find all the programs you find on windows seen that Linux is still not widely used around the world(only a 2-2,5% of the peoples use it).
* are the spywares legal ?
Unfortunately internet has not got all the regulation necessary in all the states, all that is actually going around in the net in most states is still considered legal, there are some sentences against peoples who spam or put spyware on pc but nothing is certain, so spyware are still widely used.
Just when you thought you were safe along comes yet another problem on the Internet. Did you know that even though you have anti-virus and firewalls set-up you may still not be 100% safe online? Some sites may download harmful but mostly annoying programs to your computer. These types of software include: · Ad-ware · Spy-ware · Hijackers · Trojan horses · Tracking cookies Ad-ware components typically install alongside a shareware or freeware application. These advertisements create revenue for the software developer and are provided with initial consent from the user. Ad-ware displays Web-based advertisements, through pop-up windows or through an advertising banner, that appears within a program's interface. Getting pop-up advertisements when you?re working on your computer is very annoying. Spy-ware often installs as a third-party component bundled with a freeware or shareware application, just like ad-ware, making the distinction between the two somewhat vague. Spy-ware includes code used to gather and transmit information about the user or his or her behaviour to a third party. This statistical data often is collected without the knowledge or consent of the user. Hijackers often install as a helpful browser toolbar and may alter browser settings or change the default home page to point to some other site. Trojan horses slip into an individual?s system and run without the user?s knowledge. They can have many functions. For example, some use a computer's modem to dial long-distance, generating huge phone bills for the computer owner. Unlike viruses and worms, Trojan horses do not make copies of themselves. Internet browsers write and read cookies, files with small amounts of data (such as site passwords and settings) based on instructions from Web sites. In many cases, cookies
provide a benefit to users. However, in some instances cookies are used to consolidate and track user b ehaviour across different sites, which provide marketers with private information about an individual. Did you know that 90% of most Internet capable computers have some of these files installed on them? Some of the programs may be downloaded along with common freeware programs such as Windows Media Player. To prevent these from getting on to your computer you must first get an Anti-Ad-ware/Spy-ware program. These work the same as Anti-virus except scan your computer for the types of files listed above. I first started to look for an Anti-Ad-ware program yesterday when I started experiencing annoying problems, which seemed to link to Ad-ware. Today I actually downloaded one and will run it while writing this review. One good Anti-Ad-ware program I was told about was Ad-Aware. Ad-Aware tells you a lot about hidden software on your system and with regular monitoring can prevent any notorious programs being on your computer. There are 3 versions of Ad-Aware available: Standard (free), plus and profession. This part of the review will only concentrate on the free version. When installing you can choose to install in around 10-20 languages, although most users will not need the extra languages, it is definitely helpful. After installation and you boot up the program for the first time, you are presented with a number of options: Status, Scan, Ad-watch, Plug-ins and Help. The status menu should be the first page to open when you open the program. This shows when your last scan was, total objects you have removed, total ad-aware scans, objects in ignore list and objects that have been quarantined. When scanning, y
ou can choose between 3 different types. You can perform a smart scan, customise your scan or select the folders you want to scan. You can Also choose whether it will be an in-depth scan and for your first time, you should definitely use this. I will now perform an in-depth smart scan and see how long it takes. Right, its now ten minutes later and I have 275 possibly infected files and 1 possibly bad process running on my computer. Oh, dear! Of course a simple click of the next button and they?re all gone, except for 5, because they were DLL files and were running. So, I?m restarting now before I finish. Right, all gone. The Ad-watch option is only available for upgraded versions and I currently do not have any plug-ins for the program installed so I cannot review that. I hear that Ad-Watch is not worth it though. Only a small word of caution for using this. It does not give an accurate description of files. It may if your unlucky find a file you want to keep and say it is bad. (I had problems like this when using spy sweeper. It said my Tesco Internet Dialler was bad) Just a problem for new software though. Updates are released quite often. Overall the free version of Ad-Aware is good. Not only does it remove the programs listed above, but it also recognises more rare programs and will remove them. It is definitely a must along with your Anti-Virus. I say Ad-aware is a must because it does its job, however I have not tried any other Anti-Ad-ware / Spy-ware programs. If you need to you may also consider purchasing an advanced Anti-Ad-ware program. The most recent version of Ad-Aware and its updates are currently available at a variety of shareware download sites. I got my copy from Downloads.com. The
link to the download page is below. Also on the page is a link to a page where you can buy the advanced versions. http://download.com.com/3000-8022-10214379.html?tag=lst-0-1 Also, for a more detailed look at Ad-Aware you should also check the Ad-aware section of Dooyoo. So in conclusion ad-ware etc is not good. These sorts of programs may lead to your credit card details being given to 3rd parties and may ca use many annoying and harmful effects to your computer and int ernet. So make sure to get yourself anti-ad-ware software soon for a more secure time on the Internet.
Where Are These Pop-Ups Coming From? (You wish this was just about popups, but it's about much more.) What would you think if I told you someone was monitoring every page you visit, every form you fill out, and every web email you send? This article covers a company that's doing just that, and how they're attempting to hide what they're doing. Please don't skip the whole opinion because you think the first few paragraphs don't relate to you. This is about more than one piece of software behaving poorly; it's about an industry paying lipservice to privacy, and then doing whatever they please. In other words, this could be the future of software. Have you had an ad pop-up while you've been browsing lately? Has it happened on a site that doesn't normally have popups? But you run adAware, right? Think you've blocked all spyware and embedded ad-serving software? Wrong. (Update the latest version of adAware 5.71 and the new reference file will catch it, but make sure to be using the latest reference file.) Welcome to the shady world of VX2.cc. You're going to wish popup ads were the worst things you had to worry about. There are minor spyware programs out there, with Gator being the most notorious. When you install some freeware, such as Kazaa, you'll often be asked to install a separate add-on. It's usually described in vague terms as some sort of ambiguously helpful component of the main program. This is disingenuous, but, generally, you're at least given the chance to skip the installation. Other software requires you to install some form of spyware. The name's pretty sinister, but, for the most part, all it really does is permit ads to be served inside the client software. While I'm not crazy about all this extraneous crap being installed on my system, I understand that it's needed to serve the ads. I can accept this as a component of free software.
Unfortunately, as I recently learned, not all of these little buddy programs are so relatively benign... Over the weekend, I've noticed something was obviously wrong, with popups appearing in pages I swear would never resource to such thing. Internet Explorer was crashing singnificantly more often than usual. I right clicked on one of the apparently spontaneously generated popups and checked the IP address. It led me to ads2.vx2.cc. Who runs vx2? The website doesn't say. However, it does mention this: "VX2 Corporation is a marketing reasearch company. Our "Sputnik" software builds information on internet trends. Sputnik plugs into IE Explorer and operates in the background. The software goes along with the user of the software as they are surfing around the web and builds reports on the activity. Sputnik is distributed via co-bundle agreements with popular third party software companies." So that doesn't give us much information. But it does tell you how it gets around your firewall and AdAware: It attaches itself to Internet Explorer. Next, I checked the site's WhoIs record: Domain Name: VX2.CC Creation Date: 010731 Nameservers: NS1.VX2.CC NS2.VX2.CC Registrar: Network Solutions Whois Server: whois.networksolutions.com Not very helpful. I guess whoever owns this domain is not incredibly proud of that fact. As further evidence of this, all the forms on the website get mailed back to a hotmail account. Since I was still on the vx2 site, I figured I'd check the FAQ. Here it is in its entirety: "VX2 Corporation is a marketing research company. Our "Sputnik" software builds information on internet trends. Sputnik plugs into IE Explorer and operates in the background . What Does the VX2 Software Do? The software monitors the click stream activity of the consumer and communicates with servers.
How Is VX2 Distributed? Sputnik is distributed via co-bundle agreements with popular third party software companies. How Does The VX2 Software Work? The software monitors some activity of the PC and communicates with servers." It's short, so I read it twice trying to find the part where it says it's going to deliver popup ads to me. You can check my work, but I couldn't find that part. In fact, forget about the popup ads. Two-thirds of the FAQ answers describe how vx2 is actually monitoring my activities and filing reports back to its home office! The FAQ first alludes to the vague, but at least sort of specific sounding, "clickstream" monitoring. By the end, though, the vx2 people have broadened the scope of their monitoring to include "some activity". What the Hell falls under "some activity"? Evidently, that's not asked frequently enough to make it into the FAQ. So there's a program called vx2 - installed without my permission and without my knowledge - that is collecting some unspecified data from me and sending it to a company also called vx2, whose site isn't very clear about who they really are. The site does permit you to file a request for them to delete all of your data. But there's one catch: the request form asks for more information than it could have ever collected from "clickstream" data. Or at least that's what I thought. To have your data deleted, it asks for your physical address, full name, and email address. Do you really think this information is needed to delete the current tracking they have on you? How could they match to this data? How is it possible for they to get your physical address? From you, of course. At this point, I had two major mysteries on my hands: How did vx2 get onto my system, and what was it really monitoring? After checking through a few recently
installed programs, I figured out that vx2 came packaged with Audio Galaxy I installed from a cover-cd from last year. Since they saw fit to place it on my system, I thought they might have some info on vx2. But the only mention of vx2 occurs during the Audio Galaxy installation. Buried at the ass end of the Audio Galaxy terms of agreement is the following text, reprinted here in full: "Onflow along with VX2 has created this statement in order to demonstrate our firm commitment to internet privacy. The following outlines our information gathering and dissemination practice: Our Authoring System requires authors and publishers to register on our web site. Our registration form requests that authors and publishers give us contact information (such as name and email address). We use this data to send you emails containing updates to our Authoring System and/or the availability of additional services. You may opt-out of being contacted by us; see "Choice/opt-out" below. We may publish online surveys from time to time. Data collected is used to optimize our service and to provide customer support." Now we can associate an actual company with vx2: Onflow.com. Why all the secrecy about the vx2.cc domain? What do they have to hide? If you go to Onflow.com, you will find exactly zero mentions of vx2. So is vx2 Onflow? No one appears to want to come forward as being vx2, yet Onflow and vx2 are willing to share the same terms of agreement. Normally, if two companies were both bundling their add-ons with a piece of software, there would be two completely separate agreements and privacy statements. Here's more from the Audio Galaxy terms of agreement: "Player Privacy The following information is specific to the Onflow Player, which allows users to enjoy rich multimedia displays through your browser. Data transmitted Each time the Onflow Player displays images, it transmi
ts data to our server such as the serial number of the Player, the image displayed, the web page in which it was shown and whether you moved your mouse over the image or clicked on it. This data does not identify you. Other Disclosure It is possible, though unlikely; that a subpoena, court order or similar cause could require us to disclose information we have concerning a particular Onflow Player or a particular registered user. Should that occur, we would have to comply with legal requirements. Policy changes We may change or supplement our policies as needed. We do not use personally identifiable information for any other reason than account maintenance and to notify you of special offers. If this policy changes, you will be notified via email. Our current policy can be found at our web site; please visit us at http://www.onflow.com to review our most current policy." So, they track their ad, whether or not I clicked on it, and - and this is an important part - "the web page in which it was shown." But vx2 attaches popups to arbitrary pages, such as the ones I encountered on dooyoo last Friday. This indicates to me that vx2 is actually reporting on whatever page happens to be showing when it squirts out one of its popups, effectively tracking the sites you visit. Troubling as that is, it gets worse: "Security This site has security measures in place to protect the loss, misuse and alteration of the information under our control. Onflow maintains strict internal practices that help protect the security and confidentiality of this information by limiting employee access. Choice/Opt-Out Our site provides users the opportunity to opt-out of receiving communications from us at the point where we request information about the visitor. For more information about opting out, click here http://www.onflow.com/about/unsubscribe-newsletter.php" Unfortunately, the opt-out link o
owser I use, what my screen resolution is, or even what sites I'm visiting. This is picking up personal information to attach to a profile. This means that if I send a private email using a web based email service, this invisible program will - at its own discretion and according to some unpublished criteria - effectively forward a copy to the good people at vx2. Call me ungrateful, but I'm not sure how helpful this service is to me. Remember, this information is being sent to a site with no whois record that you can only communicate with through a hotmail account. Even spammers give you more information about themselves. The bottom line is that Onflow and Audio Galaxy are being purposefully misleading. When you install Audio Galaxy, it should clearly state that if you install this software, we are going to grab data from every form you submit and send it back to our servers for storage. Popups be damned - what Onflow and Audio Galaxy have done is well past the annoyance level of popups. It's bad that they've invaded your online privacy, but it's worse that they've attempted to hide what they're actually doing. Now, do you still want to run this "freeware"?