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InfoHQ Tech Watch Newsletter No. 10 - Spyware and Adware Facts                                 July 31, 2003
 
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Welcome to our tenth InfoHQ Tech Watch Newsletter - Spyware and Adware Facts. In this newsletter we discuss spyware and adware, and how to protect your computer from it.

Related InfoHQ Articles

Fighting Back Against Email Spammers, Internet Hackers, and other Web Thieves - Everything you need to know to defend your computer from spammers and hackers: what spam is, who is hacking, antivirus and firewall program usage, complaining to legal authorities, and getting hackers and spammers kicked off the Internet.

Introduction

Almost everyone has heard the terms "spyware" and "adware" and you have probably seen the numerous programs that are spyware cleaners and killers. However, I think many people are confused on how spyware programs work, and what remedies may be needed to protect their computers.

Spyware and Adware Defined

These programs evolved from shareware software authors' need to support themselves. As many users of shareware programs did not pay to use the software, shareware authors began imbedding advertising software, "adware" into their programs.
Most people didn't have a problem with ads running in their "free" software, however these adware programs soon began collecting various information on the computers they were running on, and then sending this information back to the shareware author or to advertisers. This process of sending information back to a shareware source was dubbed "spyware" as many computer users were not aware of this behavior.

Unfortunately, malicious hackers soon jumped on the spyware wagon and started imbedding computer viruses and trojan programs into software and email.

Who's at Risk of Spyware Programs?

Anyone that uses shareware or freeware could have spyware running on their computer. However those most at risk are people that use file sharing programs like Kazaa, BearShare, Morpheus, and LimeWire.

Protecting Your Computer from Spyware Programs

All computer users should have an up to date virus checker running at all times. This should block the spyware's transmission of viruses and trojans.
However, virus checkers do not block spyware programs. To block and eliminate spyware programs you need a properly configured firewall program, or a spyware cleaner program.
If you use a high-speed Internet connection, you should already be using a firewall program in addition to your virus checker. However, it still is a good idea to run a spyware cleaner once in a while to make sure no spyware programs have slipped through your firewall.

Recommended Spyware Cleaners

There are many good shareware and freeware spyware cleaning programs. I suggest you try one of these programs before you spend money on a commercial program. The shareware program I recommend you try is called AdAware and can be downloaded at www.lavasoftusa.com. A good listing of other spyware cleaners can be found at www.spychecker.com.

Recommend Sites

Spyware-Guide a searchable database of spyware programs.
Spyware Online a general guide to spyware and adware.
Spyware Watch a UK site with good info on spyware.

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