Spyware has become a growing problem in the last few years.
The general public is largely unaware of the symptoms and
risks of spy-ware and ad-ware. These following tips are
general guidelines to protect your self. If you need further
assistance with a particular problem Fluid Dragon
can help you solve it.
What is spyware and adware?
Spyware is software that is installed without your knowledge
or consent on your computer. Its purpose is to gather data
and send it back to his controller. Adware is software that
is also installed without your knowledge or consent and
generally pops up ads while you surf the web and sometimes
even when you are not surfing the web but working with other
applications. They make using your computer more annoying
than it usually is; and can have the added benefit of cleaning
out your bank account.
What are the cost and dangers?
Both spyware and adware install themselves on your system
without your permission. Both types of programs can search
out, download & install other similar programs. All
of these programs take up hard drive space and system resources.
Your computer gets slower and slower, and more frustrating
to use. The computer will pop up ads constantly, even when
you are not online. One of the biggest dangers is identity
theft, and stolen credit card numbers, passwords, usernames
etc. If you have young children in the house they also pop
up pornographic ads.
What are the differences between
spyware and viruses?
Viruses generally are spread through email and file sharing
applications. They exist to replicate them selves and deliver
their payload. The results of the payload vary and many
viruses disable or destroy your software even hardware in
rare cases. Spyware generally is not self replicating. It
does not spread through email. Its goal is usually to serve
advertisements and gather data you may not want to share.
You can get infected by spyware simply by surfing websites.
Most viruses have to be activated by the victim, spyware
is installed simply from surfing or bundled with free even
some paid versions of software. The line between the two
can get blurry at times though.
How do I know if I am infected?
When you restart your system you get ads for various products
before your system is even done booting. Or it takes considerably
longer to boot as time goes on. You get many more pop ups
then normal nearly every 15 seconds. Or you get pop ups
for competing brands when visiting a web site. Your system
runs substantially slower than it used to.
How many computers are infected?
Nearly every computer that uses the internet. Earthlink
recently released a study and it found that over 90% of
its customers computers were infected. If you are online
you are probably infected.
How can did I get infected?
If you use file sharing applications many of these install
spyware along with the program itself. If you visit a site
that loads spyware you will get infected. Installing freeware
and shareware programs, as these often have spyware bundled.
Ever wonder how they could offer it free? Somebody has to
pay for it.
Beware of scams!
There are many programs out there that claim to be spyware
removal tools but are in actuality spyware themselves. If
you get a pop up or an ad that says your computer is infected
and click her to remove it, and you click it… Guess
what? You are now infected. There are a number of companies
who trick you into installing their programs. Some of them
state that if you want to remove the spyware that you will
have to buy the registered version of the software. Never
ever ever give out your credit card to these people. They
are running a scam and can clean out your account.
Ok I’m paranoid now what do
There are a number of free programs out there that can help
you. We don’t get any money from any of them so we
will recommend the ones we like best. Again beware of scams.
– This is a free program that works very well to remove
spyware. It does not always get everything, but it works
better than most. I definitely recommend getting the paid
version. It has ad-watch program that protects your computer
from getting infected in the first place. I use this personally.
I highly recommend getting the paid version, but if your
cheap go ahead and use the free version. Please take the
time and learn how to configure it, you will get better
results, especially if you opt for the paid version. You
have to make sure you update the definitions for it to be
able to remove the newest spyware applications.
Search and Destroy – This is another free program
that works very well. I run this after running ad-aware.
This gets some things that ad-aware misses. The author of
this software accepts donations, so help him out as it is
free software that does a great job. No I didn’t write
it ?. Again make sure you keep it updated.
this – For experts only – This program finds
all applications that launch when you start your system.
Use at your own risk. If you do not understand the windows
registry then you should get help in using this. This program
has saved my but many times.
Other programs: There are many other programs out there.
I try some of them out from time to time. If you use ANY
other program to remove spyware please make sure you research
it. Find out if it is in fact spyware it self. Some anti
virus programs try to find and remove spyware but they do
a poor job.
Sometimes a system will get so corrupted from spyware that
it can not be repaired. The best course of action at this
point is to save your files to disk and format your hard
drive and reload windows. No it’s not fun, but if
you want to protect your self and get your PC running at
100% again, it is the only way.
If you have any questions regarding spyware or need help
removing it feel free to contact
us. If you would like a second opinion on your system
and weather or not you need a professional to look at it
we can give you an objective opinion on your options. We
have offices in Central New York and service the Buffalo,
Rochester, Syracuse and Albany Areas. We also have offices
in Central Florida and service the Orlando, Melbourne, Cocoa
Beach, Vero Beach areas.
We work with residential customers and small businesses
with up to 200 employees. If you need a long term solution
to this problem we can help. Or a second opinion we can