Note: this is a very dynamic subject. Links are subject to change
at any time. Many sites just go away. Please let me know if links
are changed. We are not responsible if you get redirected to something
other than the original link.
like Gator, Alexa, Comet Cursor? Think again!
Do you trade music with file swap software? Bad news!
What is Spyware?
Is it harmful? Can I detect it? Can I stop it?
are questions that need answers. I just read an alarming set of articles
in the January 2001 issue of Smart Computing that exposes Spyware.
A simple search on the web for spyware will bring tons of answers
about this area of concern. You can read about it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spyware
Microsoft has a program for free called Microsoft
Security Essentials. Some reviews on the web state that it is
not very effective but things change rapidly.
place to learn about spyware is at spyware
guide.com. They say This is a continual list of spyware, adware,
malware, keyloggers, trojans, dialers and more.
The opening page is a definition of various bad programs. check the
menus at the top.
At the top is a drop list under Access The Guide. Hover over that
& select from the 3 choices.
They list the programs that are problems. The list was 2352
as of this writing.
page has an interesting list of the kinds of malicious software
being used by hackers today.
So what is it?
to the definition in the magazine, "Spyware is a software component
installed on your PC that gathers information about you (generally
pertaining to your online activities) and transfers that information
from your PC to advertisers or other companies/individuals without
your knowledge or permission. The spyware component itself is often
incorporated into otherwise benign software, such as game demos, MP3
players, and the like. The exact information a spyware program obtains
may be something as simple as listing the MP3 selections you store
on your PC or recent Web sites that youíve visited. In extremely malicious
cases, it may transfer password files or other sensitive information."
is an interesting quote from one source: "Internet companies,
whose apparent "business model" is the exploitation of consumer trust
and ignorance, are sneaking their spyware systems into our machines
for their own purposes."
does it come from?
Programs that are built into free but useful applications youíd actually
want to download and install. Even boxed, commercial software applications
may contain spyware components.
list of programs below that may contain spyware. Also Spyware Guide
mentioned above maintains a list of programs that may contain spyware.
In late 1999, RealNetworks (makers of the RealPlayer media player)
was found to be gathering listening habits, preferred music genres,
and other information from anyone who installed its popular RealJukebox
program. RealNetworks asserted that it was merely profiling users
in order to customize RealJukebox. RealNetworks quickly released a
patch that let users block their personal information from reaching
the Web, but this case is particularly important, because it illustrates
just how easily a popular organization can secretly collect private
information from a huge base of unknowing users. Note that many programs
have a selection when you install it to participate in sending your
data to the web. IF YOU CHOOSE "STANDARD" WHEN INSTALLING
SOFTWARE YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT GETS SELECTED OR PIGGYBACKED ON THE
can be found in cookies,
Web bugs and viruses. Check these pages for more info:
and this page.
cookie is a small text file that a Web server sends to your hard drive
via your browser. In most cases, the cookie remembers pages youíve
visited, or fills in information, such as user names and passwords.
Fortunately, Web sites generally donít hide cookies, and you can easily
set your browser to warn you about receiving cookies, or reject them
entirely (so not all cookies are considered spyware). An example of
ads based on recent searches in Amazon.
bugs are tiny image files in a Web page or HTML type e-mail message.
You donít actually see Web bugs, and cookie filters donít catch them.
But Web bugs can gather information ranging from your computerís IP
(Internet Protocol) address (which identifies your computer on the
Internet) to your surfing habits. In many cases, Web bugs can access
cookies and send their information back to the Web bugís originator.
Trojans or computer viruses. Infected systems may send user names
and passwords from popular banking programs to the person that created
the virus. Fortunately, current antivirus software can intercept and
eradicate many forms of viral spyware.
I have always objected to running anti-virus software in
the past because of the conflicts that the programs cause in Windows.
I used to recommend using Go Back as a way to recover from problems,
however this discussion makes a valid point that once the harm is
done by sending data out to the world, Go Back does not recover from
that. Therefore, I am changing my mind about the need to run an UP
TO DATE ANTIVIRUS PROGRAM. I can't emphasize enough that for an antivirus
program to work, you MUST get new data files from the web VERY OFTEN.
I also just got a Trojan horse that infected me to the level that
Go Back could not recover from. I had to completely wipe out everything
and start over. Not fun and very time consuming. I did not lose any
data because I do back up often.
of Dec 2009, Symantec has obsoleted GoBack & replaced it with
Norton Ghost. The principle still holds- MAKE A BACKUP BEFORE DOING
ANY MAINTENANCE. Actually you should do a backup regularly anyway.
2016, there are a number of other backup options. Tons of software
like Acronis. And now everything is moving to "Cloud" backup.
This means that much of our stuff is stored in another system somewhere
else. Scary as this sounds, the security is probably better than we
have on our own computers. And the advantage is that the data is available
to us anywhere, not just on one computer. A recent comment even stated
that the "Cloud" may replace servers. Our accounting is
now done on the "cloud". Microsoft and others are selling
subscriptions to their software on the cloud. The advantage of this
is the software never needs updating. Your subscription pays for always
having the latest program. The advantage of this is the ability to
access your files from any computer.
programs should I watch out for?
Alexa, Aureate, Comet Cursor, Cydoor, Doubleclick, DSSAgent, Flyswat,
Gator, TimeSink, KaZaa, Toptext, Web3000 and Webhancer and many programs
that promise to enhance your speeds of connection or download are
suspect. Remember, THERE IS NO FREE LUNCH. If someone gives you something
for free, it may be spying on you. Ever wonder where the mailing lists
are generated that send you junk mail? Now you know.
The above list of programs was taken from various sources and my own
experience with clients and removal software. If any author of the
above programs feels they should be removed from this list, please
feel free to contact me.
of this writing (spyware
guide.com) still maintains a list of spyware programs.
is a quote from an article in The February 2002 Smart Business Magazine
by Taylor and Jerome:
How low can advertisers go? Ambush ads are now testing the limits
of ethical behavior. Gator, a program that presents itself as your
"smart online companion," behaves like a digital wallet, remembering
passwords and offering special discounts. In fact, it's a hijacker.
Visit Staples.com with Gator installed, for example, and up pops a
promotion for free shipping from Office Depot. Click on the coupon,
and you're whisked to Office Depot's site. If you don't bite, the
software tries to nab you again at Staples' check-out screen. More
than 10 million surfers have downloaded the utility. At long last,
the Interactive Advertising Bureau has gotten huffy about programs
that shanghai surfers (Gator has reluctantly agreed to stop selling
online ads that block other ads until it works out a deal with the
IAB). All this has conveniently deflected criticism from the portals.
After all, ambush ads are even sleazier than the in-your-face ads
you'll find at MSN, Excite, Yahoo, AOL, and other high-traffic sites.
This article was posted at www.smartbusinessmag.com, but the site
has removed articles to all but subscribers. Now in 2015 the site
appears to be gone.
you consider it harmful to give out personal information without your
a virus harmful that sends your personal documents or information
to others without your permission?
you consider it harmful for someone to sneak a program into your computer
that spies on you?
I detect and remove spyware?
there are numerous programs that can be downloaded (for free?) for
detecting and removing spyware. Do a search on the web and you will
find many. I choose not to list any here until I have time to check
them out personally.
can detect and destroy spyware that is currently on your system by
downloading SpyBot. Go to the home page here.
My preference for downloading it is at Filehippo.
Other download sites are a headache.
malicious program bypassed all my protections, hijacked my home page
& no matter how I tried it came back every time I rebooted. I
searched the web for 3 days & tried every removal tool suggested.
I deleted files in Windows, modified the registry & it would come
back. Nothing worked until I bought the paid version of Spyware Doctor.
I run it continuously & use the immunize feature & have had
no problems since. The thing I like is that it warns me when I am
trying to access a site that may contain spyware. It's not perfect.
Sometimes it warns me not to go to my Yahoo e-mail, but it has kept
me away from harmful sites.
removing spyware from your system, then download and install a program
to block spyware from getting in to your system in the first place.
I searched download.com for "spyware block" and found 47
items, but SpywareBlaster 2.6.1 was the only free one I found.
about "piggyback software" and "leechware" by
links to spyware info sites:
,(includes instructions on removing many spyware programs) SpyChecker,
any of these sites can change. For up to date info just Google "spyware
update: Here is a site
that provides info on free Spyware removal programs.