MENU

Spyware

Spyware, what is it?

Spyware, also called adware, is any software that covertly gathers user information through the user's Internet connection without his or her knowledge, usually for advertising purposes. Spyware applications are typically bundled as a hidden component of freeware or shareware programs that can be downloaded from the Internet. Once installed, the spyware monitors user activity on the Internet and transmits that information in the background to someone else. Spyware can also gather information about e-mail addresses and even passwords and credit card numbers.

Spyware is similar to a Trojan horse in that users unwittingly install the product when they install something else. A common way to become a victim of spyware is to download certain peer-to-peer file swapping products that are available today.

Aside from the questions of ethics and privacy, spyware steals from the user by using the computer's memory resources and also by eating bandwidth as it sends information back to the spyware's home base via the user's Internet connection. Because spyware is using memory and system resources, the applications running in the background can lead to system crashes or general system instability.

Because spyware exists as independent executable programs, they have the ability to monitor keystrokes, scan files on the hard drive, snoop other applications, such as chat programs or word processors, install other spyware programs, read cookies, change the default home page on the Web browser, consistently relaying this information back to the spyware author who will either use it for advertising/marketing purposes or sell the information to another party.

Licensing agreements that accompany software downloads sometimes warn the user that a spyware program will be installed along with the requested software, but the licensing agreements may not always be read completely because the notice of a spyware installation is often couched in obtuse, hard-to-read legal disclaimers.

*Definition provided by Webopedia: Online Computer Dictionary for Computer and Internet Terms and Definitions (http://www.pcwebopedia.com/)

Copyright 2004 Jupitermedia Corporation All Rights Reserved.
Legal Notices, Licensing, Reprints, & Permissions, Privacy Policy

How do I prevent Spyware?

  1. Choose programs carefully that you download. Often free or trial programs downloaded from the Internet contain Spyware. The most common Spyware programs are installed with peer-to-peer sharing software such as Kazaa, Bearshare, and Limewire.
  2. Do not click on unfamiliar links in pop-up windows. The safest way to close a pop-up windows is to right-click on it in your taskbar and choose Close or select the active window and use Alt + F4 on your keyboard.
  3. Set your browser to not allow third-party cookies. For Internet Explorer, Go to Tools --> Internet Options --> Privacy tab --> Advanced --> check mark Override --> click on Block under Third-party Cookies --> OK
  4. Delete temporary Internet files and set History to 1 day. For Internet Explorer, Go to Tools --> Internet Options. Under the General tab, click Delete... under the Browsing history heading. Then click on the Delete button to remove the checkmarked items. To change how internet explorer handles temporary files, click on the Settings button. You can change the number of days the history is stored by using the dials at the bottom of the window.
  5. Use anti-virus software and keep it up-to-date.
  6. Always install from trusted sources and make sure to read to the End User License Agreement.
  7. Don't use Peer-2-Peer file sharing programs.

How do I remove Spyware?

Many anti-Spyware products are available for free download, two of the more popular and recommended by the Keller Computer Center are Malwarebytes and AVG Free Edition. These products scan for Spyware on your computer and allow you to remove it. One of the more popular and recommended by the Keller Computer Center is Malwarebytes. Malwarebytes can be downloaded from the following site: http://www.malwarebytes.org/mbam.php

How do I scan my computer for spyware using Malwarebytes?

  1. Open Malwarebytes using the shortcut on your desktop or by locating it in the Windows Start menu.
  2. With Malwarebytes open, you will see a screen similar to the one below. Notice that there are a number of tabs located near the top of the window. The first thing you will want to do is check for updates to make sure your spyware definitions are up to date. Click on the Update tab.

    Malware1

  3. When you click on the update tab you will notice a button in the middle of the window that says Check for Updates. Click on this button to start the update process. Updating may take a couple minutes and cause Malwarebytes to restart during the update process.

    Malware2

  4. When updating is complete, click on the Scanner tab. This will bring you back to the page that appeared when you first started Malwarebytes. To begin a scan you will want to choose either a quick scan or a full scan. If this is the first time scanning your computer, choose the button next to Full Scan. Then click on the button Scan. This will bring up the Perform Scan window. This window shows you all of the drives that are available for scanning on your computer. In almost all cases, the C:\ drive is the only drive that will need to be selected and is selected by default. Click on Start Scan.

    Malware3

  5. During the scan, Malwarebytes will look something like the picture below.

    Malware4

  6. When the scan is finished, the picture below will pop up. Click OK.

    Malware5

  7. Now you will see all of the results from your scan. If Malwarebytes did not find any problems with your computer, then the picture below will not show up. If Malwarebytes did find malicious items as shown below, then click on Remove Selected. This will remove all of the infected files from your machine. After the process is over, Malwarebytes may tell you that some items could not be removed. These items will be removed upon a reboot. If this is the case, click on yes to restart your computer now.

    Malware6
  • STEM Day 2014
  • TimeSaver Program
  • Arts @ Clarke