Archive for the 'Computer Viruses' Category

I love Spyware. What Spyware Is And Why It’s Important

I love Spyware. It tastes delicious. Like Chicken in fact.

Remove Spyware – What It Is And Why It’s Important

spyware-controlOne of the most common phrases internet users hear today concerns the need to remove spyware. It’s true that the phenomenon of spyware is relatively recent – a few years ago, the only thing we needed to worry about were viruses and the odd Trojan horse. But today, as more users use the internet and it becomes more dynamic, spyware has emerged as the new threat you need to be wary about.

What It Is And How It Works

As the name implies, spyware is basically a tracking tool that is placed on your computer to ‘spy’ on you. The threat level of spyware varies – in some cases, they can be pretty benign. For instance, a number of sites use spyware to track consumer surfing and purchasing as part of their marketing research. However there are a number of malicious sites out there that use spyware to capture your passwords and other personal information. The best way to protect yourself against spyware contamination is to know what’s out there and how to defend yourself against them. If in fact you do find some on your system, it’s essential that you learn how to remove spyware, as well.

But first things first – how do you avoid getting spyware in the first place? Bear in mind that spyware needs to be downloaded onto your system – that means that the most popular way spyware infections happen is through unscrupulous downloading. The best way to avoid this is the make sure you are downloading from a trusted person or site. If you are downloading software packages from the internet, make sure that you do so via a trusted site.

Read Before You Agree

It’s also important to thoroughly read the End User License Agreement that pops up before you download any software. Most times people just blindly say ‘yes’ to this without reading the fine print – in some cases, you could be allowing the company to install spyware programs onto your computer. Last but definitely not least, it’s important to learn how to remove spyware. The good news is that most anti-virus programs now detect and remove spyware as well as other threats. But to make sure you are always protected, ensure that your virus updates are done regularly. Also make sure to scan your computer on a regular basis to quickly spot any infections.

The bottom line to preventing spyware infections is to be careful about what you download onto your computer. If you hear about a great new program, research it first and read other people’s user feedback. When you do download, make sure you only do so via a trusted site. If you do find an infection, run your antivirus program to remove spyware from your system.

I don’t expect you to love Spyware like I do but please share your thoughts and feelings about the stuff.

Spyware got your Computer Down?

Slow computer BugIs Spyware Slowing Your Computer Down? by gennew05

Everyday more and more computers are becoming infected with Spyware and Adware (advertising tracking). No matter where you go on the web, someone is trying to sneak something on your computer. From honest web sites placing simple logon cookies, to paid advertising tracking your movements on the web, to malicious software that is designed to record your keystrokes and discover your passwords, Spyware and Adware have together become the web’s number one problem.

Many of these programs are down right dangerous and seriously threaten your online privacy and identity. But even the simple and supposedly benign Adware programs can cause you serious problems.

Spyware is any program that installs itself onto your computer with the intent to spy on your activity. This can be recording your online searching habits, or whatever you type on your keyboard. Adware is not much better. It is designed to watch what you do online, where you go, which terms you search for and then report this to the ad agency that runs the adware program.

Adware programs may be designed with the best intentions in mind, but even these can cause your computer serious problems.

Here is what happens. Many, if not most, advertisers on the internet will try and place a cookie or other small program on your computer. Many will add code that will track that cookie as it hits different pages. The code may be designed simply to gather anonymous data, or it may be trying to send ads to your browser that the advertising company thinks you will be more likely to respond to.

Whatever the case, the Adware or Spyware is using your computer to do its tracking. This means that part of your computer’s power and CPU cycles are being diverted away from the activity you are trying to perform. Your computer is being used by someone else instead to track your movements. Now, when we multiply this behavior by tens or hundreds of Adware or Spyware programs all trying to use your computer for their work you can begin to see the problem.

These programs can literally slow your computer down to a crawl, or make it crash altogether. They can fill your computer up with trash files, open unwanted popup windows, use up the space in your internet cache and generally just make working on your computer a nightmare.

Luckily there are several easy solutions to the problem. But first let me make one distinction, Spyware and Adware are not the same thing as a computer virus. Although a computer virus can install spyware on a computer, you will need different tools to remove a computer virus and to keep your system clean from Spyware and Adware. You should be using both a high quality commercial anti-virus program and one or more good quality programs for handling the spyware/adware problem.

There are several good Spyware/adware programs on the market. I use two different programs on my network, Ad-aware from Lavasoft and Spy Sweeper from Webroot Software although there are several others. You can easily find both of these by doing an internet search for Ad-aware and Spy Sweeper. Or simply do a search for spyware. Both of these programs will scan your hard drives and registry and present you with a list of spyware/adware programs hiding on your system. You can then quarantine or remove the offending programs. I use both of these programs since neither one seems to catch everything. Plus I will run them 2 or more times in a row, the nastier spyware will not be completely removed on the first pass.

The process is very easy and I recommend running these programs at least once a week and every time you have been doing some extended web surfing. You will be surprised at how many of these spyware/adware programs will sneak onto your system. I run a very clean network and I have yet to scan my system and not come up with at least a few of these hiding on my hard drive.

So be aware of the problem, take reasonable precautions, scan your system frequently, and the spyware/adware curse can be broken.

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Top 10 Ways Thieves Steal Your Identity

Eye Scan

Identity theft is a serious problem. It can cost you hundreds of dollars, damage your credit, and even land you in jail. It helps to avoid these problems if you know how thieves try to steal your information.

Here are the top 10 ways a thief will try to find your identity:

1. Your wallet

The easiest way to steal your identity is to steal your wallet. It usually contains your drivers license and credit cards. Sometimes they may hit the jackpot and also get your social security card.

Never have your purse or wallet where it is easily accessible. One scheme that is increasing in popularity is to use an accomplice to distract a store clerk while the other team member goes behind the counter and grabs a purse. They are out the door and long gone before anything can be done to stop them. The distraction from seeing your purse taken out the door also gives the accomplice time to get away.

2. Your mailbox

It’s obvious that your outgoing mail be an easy source of personal information such as checking accounts and credit card information. Incoming mail can be a source of information as well. Stealing if from an unlocked mailbox is easy. If you have been expecting a bill or two that haven’t arrived on time, be suspicious. That information could already be in the hands of a thief.

3. Your glove compartment

An unlocked car is an invitation to a filing cabinet most people call a glove box. Even storing vehicle registration and insurance cards required for driving can be risky. But many people store many other papers there as well. Credit card receipts, gas cards, and other information should not be stored here. Keep your car locked at all times.

4. Your trash

“Dumpster diving” is an easy source of identity information. Many victims never gave a thought about the bills they threw out or the credit offers they discarded. Any papers that contain information thieves can use should be shredded before it goes in the trash. It’s easier for them to move on to the next trash bin than put all those tiny pieces of paper back together.

5. Skimming

Devices are available that can swipe credit cards and store their information. This is a particular problem in busy stores and restaurants where a credit card is given directly to a clerk to charge. Keep an eye on what happens to your card.

6. Phishing

Fraudulent email is frequently sent spoofing banks, PayPal, eBay, and other places you might have business dealings. They offer a link to click on that will take you to a login page for that business. Sometimes those landing pages are a very good imitation of the real thing. However, all they want is your login ID and password. This is be used to access your accounts. Instead of using their link, always go directly to your login page.

7. Change your address

Filing a change of address with the post office can divert your mail to someone trying to steal your information. This can consist of bank and credit card statements, utility bills, and other accounts. If your mail suddenly stops, investigate immediately.

8. Pretexting

Over the phone, unscrupulous individuals may pretend to be a business to convince you to give out personal information. Be particularly wary of someone asking you to confirm information such as your social security number.

9. Spyware

Unless you are careful, programs that monitor the use of your computer can be installed on your machine without your knowledge. If you have children, this is a particular problem. They may visit risky sites offering games and other downloadable programs. When installed, your computer can use the internet to transmit your private information such as your bank login and password.

10. Burglary

It used to be burglars broke into your home or business to find money and other valuables. Today, your identity can be much more valuable than the cash you keep in your home. Keep your personal information hidden or locked away for burglars cannot find it.

Break ins at places where you do business are another concern. When businesses are robbed, credit information is a valuable commodity that can be sold to other thieves. And sometimes businesses throw out old records containing your valuable information. This can be stolen by dumpster diving.

If you are aware of how identity thieves get your information, you can be prepared to protect yourself.

Let me know if you have any others I missed or stories of you or someone getting their identity stolen.

Idenity Theft

Idenity Theft (Identity)
Amazingly enough in this world of security fanatics we can’t stop one of the worst crimes ever to hit the nation. Idenity theft is one of the worst crimes for the individual victimized and the businesses compromised. It has taken over the nation and compromised our way of living long enough. I think more needs to be done to secure up peoples lives and credit history for this US nation to progress.

Idenity theft happens in many ways. The most common is for a thief to steel your wallet or purse.

If you are keeping too much information in your wallet then you may never get your identity back totally. It might be sold to a hundred people that use it whenever they get a chance. Common things that should not be in your wallet are: Social Security Card, Birth Certificate, Tax and Financial information, and Credit Card Pins. Do not keep these in your possession unless you have to. They contain information that a thief can use to obtain fraudulent credit, drivers licenses, and even a Social Security Card in your name. They can then walk into your bank with the false ID and empty your bank account, write checks, and even take out a loan on your house. They will walk away with your money and will leave you with the bill and your credit rating in destruction.

The best thing to do is not to put yourself at risk for thieves. Don’t take ID that you don’t need. Shred unneeded documents that contain your Social Security number, Birth dates, Mother’s Maiden name, and other financial info. Make it hard for a thief to steel your idenity and they will look for someone else who will be an easier target. In this world a little bit of paranoia is essential. Ask why people need information about you. Only give information that is required for applications. It will save you a lot of trouble in the long run because you will not have to hunt down a person that posses as you messing up your credit wherever they can.

My wife and I have had several letters from companies lately that have been hacked and computers stolen with our information possibly compromised. It can happen to anyone so check your credit report often and make sure all the accounts are valid and current. Here is a link to the website to check your credit report once a year for free. There are other websites that charge for this free service so here is a link to the real one.

Enjoy and let me know what you think with a post or email.

Watch Idenity Theft Video.

More info on Idenity Theft and F.T.C. link.

What things can a firewall do?

A firewall can prevent any communication from getting to your computer including information that you may want to receive like web pages or e-mails from someone else. You could use a firewall to prevent everything from getting through to your computer and only accomplish the same thing as unplugging your computer from the internet or computer network.

Firewalls are not made to do this, but rather make sure that you keep control of the kind of communication you want your computer to send and receive. This control can help prevent viruses and spyware that do not communicate through the doors that you have left open. They cannot do anything about the communication that passes through those open channels however, so spyware and virus scanners are still critical for protection of the open doors on your computer at all times.

Firewalls are also a security measure taken by nearly all corporate and secure local networks to keep unauthorized people away from confidential data and computer resources. Any computer on the internet without a firewall is wide open for any outside person to attack. These attacks may even take the form of an individual that just wants to see how many computers they can hack into and destroy. The argument that “there is nothing that anyone would want to see on my computer” may be true, but that does not mean that someone won’t do harm to your computer while they are there. This computer hacking is like a hunting sport to computer hackers and your computer is the targeted game.

What is a computer firewall and how does it work?

Firewalls are a software program that monitors the communication on a computer network and/or via the internet and blocks unwanted information from being transmitted on certain channels (port numbers) to the user’s computer.

Firewalls do this similar to the way a person may block certain cable channels from being available to their kids. The communication is still there in the cable but it is not able to get through to the computer or television. Another way to think of it is having multiple doors on your computer that you can lock and unlock. If you leave too many doors open to your computer something or someone unwanted can get in a lot more easily and then cause problems. Firewalls close those doors and make sure that only authorized communication goes on between computers and on the internet.

How to prevent computer viruses from infecting a computer?

Most viruses are very preventable by an up-to-date virus scanner. A virus scanner must be up-to-date because it can only scan for the viruses that it knows how to find and remove. Therefore, an out-of-date virus scanner is just a slight step above having no virus scanner at all. New viruses are created all the time and if the virus scanner is not regularly updated then it is very likely that the new virus will slip right past your defenses.

In order to be secure you need an up-to-date virus scanner constantly running on your computer that scans all of the files coming into the computer from the internet and e-mail for any signs of virus. If one is found then it is blocked, quarantined (placed in a special place on the hard drive where it can not do anything), or deleted, and then the computer user is notified of the potential attack. Firewalls can also help prevent some viruses from getting on your computer. They can do this by blocking communication channels between your computer and others which are unnecessary for the computer to receive information from. More will be discussed regarding firewalls later.

Where do computer viruses come from?

Virus programs come from only a few sources throughout the world. They are created by computer programmers that either have a vendetta against the world and its computer users or just want attention and enjoy seeing the chaos they have created around the world. Many of these virus programmers are attempting to get even with a company that has fired them but end up spreading the virus around the world to do it. Wherever the viruses programs come from they are out there and more and more viruses are created each year to cause computer users problems every day.

What are computer viruses?

Viruses are malicious programs that infect one computer and then try to infect other computers through wires that are connected to other computers. Other types of viruses can also be spread through e-mail attachments that contain the virus and are opened by unsuspecting victims.

Once on your computer, a virus can cause extensive damage to your computer and the data stored on it.Â

Prevent spyware from getting on my computer?

The first rule with preventing spyware is not to click on popup ads. If you click them they will multiply and the marketing companies will begin to see you as an easy target for advertising. The act of clicking on popup ads shows that you are an interested audience that will buy almost anything.

A word of caution about spyware and popup ads is that there are companies and people that make their living by putting popup ads on your computer that have sayings like “You have spyware on your computer!!! Click here to remove it.” Ignore these popup ads like you should any other because that is all they are: popup ads. These ads are created by spyware popping ads up on your screen to sell you things. So of course you have spyware on your computer, they put it there. The only difference is this time the spyware removal company has put the spyware there and they want you to buy their program to fix the very spyware that they placed on your computer. This is an underhanded way to make money off of uneducated victims. If you do go ahead and purchase the program it will probably fix the supposed problem they have created until it comes time for them to try to sell you other things.

Some other gimmicks like this are programs sold by companies to help speed up your computer because the spyware put on your computer by the same company is slowing it down so much. Popup ads are not supposed to be on your computer in the first place so if they are there then something must be wrong and spyware needs to be removed and the damage fixed. The best thing is not to trust or click on any popup ads on your computer but to remove the cause of the problem with Spybot or Adaware. Just click the gray X in the top right corner of the advertising window and forget about it, no matter how enticing the deal seems.

The next rule is to avoid downloading free screensavers or other programs that are not trusted or tested by computer technicians. The saying is true for the internet as well as in life that there is no such thing as a free lunch because a lot of these free programs on the internet install spyware on your computer without you ever knowing it when you install these free programs on your computer. These free programs are doing a lot more than what you want them to do on your computer and once on your computer they can not be prevented from collecting personal data about you or showing you hundreds of popup ads.

What does spyware do to your computer?

Spyware’s main purposes are to collect information about where you surf on the internet and what kind of things you buy online, and to display popup ads in response to the clicks of your mouse. These little annoyances are enough by themselves but spyware can cause much greater havoc than that. This havoc comes from the kind of people that write the programs that collect the information and display the popup ads. They are people that don’t ever see your pain and frustration as ad after ad keep popping up as long as you keep clicking on them.

Where does spyware come from?

Spyware comes from the internet and/or programs that are downloaded from the internet. Before people began putting computers on the internet spyware was not even thought of, but now that there are millions of computers on the internet talking to each other it is becoming a huge problem. Some might say that these programs cause more damage and problems than computer viruses, which until recently were considered to be the biggest problem since the internet began.

To understand where spyware comes from you have to know who makes it. There are computer programmers in the world that make their living by tracking where you go, what you do on the internet, what websites you visit, and how long you look at a page. Even sensitive personal information such as your birth date and social security number are not above what some of these programmers will collect to make money. Most of the computer programmers who create and use spyware programs to track your internet use sell this information to marketing companies and others that want to advertise to you if you are interested in the items they are selling.

What is spyware?

Spyware can be defined as a program that is installed on your computer intentionally or unintentionally that performs some kind of action to market products and collect data about the user of the computer.Â