Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Spyware and Adware 101 - Part 1

Most computer users today know enough to put some type of antivirus protection on there computer. Spyware and adware are a relative newcomer to field of malicious software(often called malware). Also in this group of malicious software are phishing, rootkits and spam. These terms can often confuse new user(sometimes called newbies) who unwilling fall victim to these unscrupulous programs. My hope here is to first identify the enemy and then address how to combat them. Knowledge is power, remember? First up is....

Spyware - Simply put is any program that is installed and who's activities are without your consent. As the name implies it spies on information on your computer. They may track and gather information such as websites you visit, social security numbers, credit card numbers. They collect them and pass them on to even more unscrupulous characters. Some may change your browser settings and such.They are often bundled with freeware and shareware programs.

Adware - Works much the same as spyware. Probably considered lesser evil twin . They often run annoying ads (pop ups) and collect marketing information about you. May not seem harmful but they are doing it without your knowing consent. They are installed much like spyware is.

Phishing - Much like it sounds. People with less than honest intentions are basically "fishing" for sensitive personal info to exploit. A common tactic is through email posing as some type of institution such as a bank, Paypal, Ebay, and so on. Often saying that they need to verify personal information. They prey on people vulnerability. Some of the websites are quite well done and could fool a lot of people who aren't paying attention.

Rootkits - This one is relatively new to me so I'll be learning too. Rootkits are a stealth like software program that cybercreeps use to gain control of remote computers. They basically go to the root or core of the remote computer to gain control of it. They often go undetected by security programs.

Spam - These are the new junk mail of the future. Unsolicited ads via email for everything from get rich quick schemes to prescription drug etc.

Now that we know who the usual suspects are next installment will be on how to block them. Thanks for coming by.

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