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Inside Spyware



InsideSpyware


Contents :-



What is a Spyware?


Spyware is computer software that is installed surreptitiously on a personal computer to intercept or take partial control over the user's interaction with the computer, without the user's informed consent. While the term spyware suggests software that secretly monitors the user's behavior, the functions of spyware extend well beyond simple monitoring.

Spyware programs can collect various types of personal information, but can also interfere with user control of the computer in other ways, such as installing additional software, redirecting Web browser activity, or diverting advertising revenue to a third party.

In response to the emergence of spyware, a small industry has sprung up dealing in anti-spyware software. Running anti-spyware software has become a widely recognized element of computer security best practices for Microsoft Windows desktop computers. A number of jurisdictions have passed anti-spyware laws, which usually target any software that is surreptitiously installed to control a user's computer.


Route of infection


Spyware does not directly spread in the manner of a computer virus or worm: generally, an infected system does not attempt to transmit the infection to other computers. Instead, spyware gets on a system through deception of the user or through exploitation of software vulnerabilities.

Most spyware is installed without users being aware. Since they tend not to install software if they know that it will disrupt their working environment and compromise their privacy, spyware deceives users, either by piggybacking on a piece of desirable software such as Kazaa, or tricking them into installing it (the Trojan horse method). Some "rogue" anti-spyware programs even masquerade as security software.

Spyware usually gets onto your machine because of something you do, like clicking a button on a pop-up window, installing a software package or agreeing to add functionality to your Web browser. These applications often use trickery to get you to install them, from fake system alert messages to buttons that say "cancel" when they really do the opposite.Here are some of the general ways in which Spyware finds its way into your computer:

• Piggybacked software installation - Some applications -- particularly peer-to-peer file-sharing clients -- will install spyware as a part of their standard install. If you don't read the installation list closely, you might not notice that you're getting more than the file-sharing application you want. This is especially true of the "free" versions that are advertised as an alternative to software you have to buy. There's no such thing as a free lunch.

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While it officially claims otherwise, Kazaa has been known to include spyware in its download package.

• Drive-by download - This is when a Web site or pop-up window automatically tries to download and install spyware on your machine. The only warning you might get would be your browser's standard message telling you the name of the software and asking if it's okay to install it.

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Internet Explorer security warning

If your security settings are set low enough, you won't even get the warning.

• Browser add-ons - These are pieces of software that add enhancements to your Web browser, like a toolbar, animated pal or additional search box. Sometimes, these really do what they say they do but also include elements of spyware as part of the deal. Or sometimes they are nothing more than thinly veiled spyware themselves. Particularly nasty add-ons are considered browser hijackers -- these embed themselves deeply in your machine and take quite a bit of work to get rid of. InsideSpyware4

Bonzi Buddy is an "add-on" application that includes spyware in its package.

• Masquerading as anti-spyware - This is one of the cruelest tricks in the book. This type of software convinces you that it's a tool to detect and remove spyware.

• Provide the ability to interact with another program or a Web site (For example, the HowStuffWorks screensaver keeps the mouse active, which allows you to click on several different icons to access specific areas of the HowStuffWorks Web site.)

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When you run the tool, it tells you your computer is clean while it installs additional spyware of its own.


What Spyware can do?


Spyware can do any number of things once it is installed on your computer.

At a minimum, most spyware runs as an application in the background as soon as you start your computer up, hogging RAM and processor power. It can generate endless pop-up ads that make your Web browser so slow it becomes unusable. It can reset your browser's home page to display an ad every time you open it. Some spyware redirects your Web searches, controlling the results you see and making your search engine practically useless. It can also modify the DLLs (dynamically linked libraries) your computer uses to connect to the Internet, causing connectivity failures that are hard to diagnose.

Certain types of spyware can modify your Internet settings so that if you connect through dial-up service, your modem dials out to expensive, pay telephone numbers. Like a bad guest, some spyware changes your firewall settings, inviting in more unwanted pieces of software. There are even some forms that are smart enough to know when you try to remove them in the Windows registry and intercept your attempts to do so.

The point of all this from the spyware makers' perspective is not always clear. One reason it's used is to pad advertisers' Web traffic statistics. If they can force your computer to show you tons of pop-up ads and fake search results, they can claim credit for displaying that ad to you over and over again. And each time you click the ad by accident, they can count that as someone expressing interest in the advertised product.

Another use of spyware is to steal affiliate credits. Major shopping sites like Amazon and eBay offer credit to a Web site that successfully directs traffic to their item pages. Certain spyware applications capture your requests to view sites like Amazon and eBay and then take the credit for sending you there.

Snitches and Sneaks

There are computer programs that truly "spy" on you. There are applications designed to silently sit on your desktop and intercept personal information like usernames and passwords. These programs include Bugdrop, Back Orifice and VX2. These are more like viruses or hacker tools than spyware.


Preventions


As the spyware threat has worsened, a number of techniques have emerged to counteract it. These include programs designed to remove or to block spyware, as well as various user practices which reduce the chance of getting spyware on a system.

Nonetheless, spyware remains a costly problem. When a large number of pieces of spyware have infected a Windows computer, the only remedy may involve backing up user data, and fully reinstalling the operating system.

Anti-spyware programs

Many programmers and some commercial firms have released products designed to remove or block spyware. Steve Gibson's OptOut, mentioned above, pioneered a growing category. Programs such as Lavasoft's Ad-Aware SE and Patrick Kolla's Spybot - Search & Destroy rapidly gained popularity as effective tools to remove, and in some cases intercept, spyware programs. More recently Microsoft acquired the GIANT AntiSpyware software, rebranding it as Windows AntiSpyware beta and releasing it as a free download for Genuine Windows XP and Windows 2003 users. In early spring, 2006, Microsoft renamed the beta software to Windows Defender, and it was released as a free download in October 2006. Microsoft currently ships the product for free with Windows Vista.

Other well-known anti-spyware products include:

• ParetoLogic's Anti-Spyware and XoftSpy SE

• PC Tools's Spyware Doctor

• Sunbelt Software's Counterspy

• Trend Micro's HijackThis

• Webroot Software's Spy Sweeper

Major anti-virus firms such as Symantec, McAfee and Sophos have come later to the table, adding anti-spyware features to their existing anti-virus products. Early on, anti-virus firms expressed reluctance to add anti-spyware functions, citing lawsuits brought by spyware authors against the authors of web sites and programs which described their products as "spyware". However, recent versions of these major firms' home and business anti-virus products do include anti-spyware functions, albeit treated differently from viruses.

Symantec Anti-Virus, for instance, categorizes spyware programs as "extended threats" and now offers real-time protection from them (as it does for viruses). Recently, the anti-virus company Grisoft, creator of AVG anti-virus program, acquired anti-spyware firm Ewido Networks, re-labeling their Ewido anti-spyware program as AVG Anti-Spyware. This shows a trend by anti virus companies to launch a dedicated solution to spyware and malware. Zone Labs, creator of Zone Alarm firewall have also released an anti spyware program.


Spyware FAQ’s


Over the last few years, a new form of annoyances produced by the internet has appeared. Before, viruses were the main concern. But now computer users also have Spyware to deal with. This tutorial is designed to educate you with basic knowledge about Spyware and Spyware removal.

Q: What is Spyware?

A: Spyware is any program designed to collect information about you and your web practices. Many people are unaware that their computers are infected with Spyware agents that have secretly installed themselves onto their hard drives. These agents have been created for a number of reasons. Some are for advertising purposes, telling marketers what users search for, what they download, what sites they visit, etc., in order to send them pop-up advertisements that cater to their individual interests. Not only is this an invasion of privacy and the cause of annoying strings of pop-ups, but the affected computers may also become more susceptible to hackers. Some forms of spyware are more malicious then your average advertisement popper, designed instead to transmit email addresses for spaming, as well as various forms of identification such as social security and credit card numbers.

Many programmers and some commercial firms have released products designed to remove or block spyware. Steve Gibson's OptOut, mentioned above, pioneered a growing category. Programs such as Lavasoft's Ad-Aware SE and Patrick Kolla's Spybot - Search & Destroy rapidly gained popularity as effective tools to remove, and in some cases intercept, spyware programs. More recently Microsoft acquired the GIANT AntiSpyware software, rebranding it as Windows AntiSpyware beta and releasing it as a free download for Genuine Windows XP and Windows 2003 users. In early spring, 2006, Microsoft renamed the beta software to Windows Defender, and it was released as a free download in October 2006. Microsoft currently ships the product for free with Windows Vista.

Q: Okay, so how did it get on my computer?

A: Most Spyware comes with other programs. For example, when you download something like Kazaa or other file sharing programs, they often come with Spyware that is installed along with program. Sometimes there are options allowing you to not install these programs with the originally downloaded program, but often times they are hidden "features" that get onto your computer without you even knowing it.

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Kazaa is full of extra spyware programs that are easily overlooked. Unfortunately there is no way around downloading these

Another way spyware gets onto a computer is through carelessness on your part. Always be careful what you click on while browsing the web.

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Clicking on popups is an open invitation HINT: You have not won anything, no matter how much it flashes. Also avoid punching the monkey, taking quizzes in popups and any banner that doesn't tell you who posted it.

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Always read carefully any security warning that pops up. Unless it is something you are trying to install, or from a company name you actually recognize ALWAYS CLICK NO!!! No matter how many times it pops up again, always click no! And NEVER check to Always trust content from..., even if you do trust them.

Q: How do I protect myself from Spyware?

A: Unfortunately, there is not much in the way of automated Spyware blocking. Most of they protection comes from your own actions of safe browsing. There are some tools to aid you though. The Google Toolbar has a built in popup blocker that stops most popups from appearing, saving you the trouble of accidentally clicking on something. You can also try using an alternative web browser, such as Mozilla Firefox. Not only does Firefox have built in popup blocking, but most Spyware is designed to infect Internet Explorer users. Finally, SpywareGuide.com has created a registry key that prevents many Spyware programs from operating. It doesn't block everything, but does help in the fight.

Q: What do I do if I already have spyware on my computer?

A: In order to help you protect your computer from the hungry eyes of advertisers, we have provided programs to remove these often overlooked spying agents. We recommend Ad-Aware 6.181 for Spyware removal, but we also provide HijackThis and SpyBot Search and Destroy for more advanced users. All of these programs are available for download on the downloads page . (Note: If you are unsure about what programs are Spyware, please use ONLY Ad-Aware. The other two programs can remove not only Spyware, but also components that are needed for your computer's internet connection to function properly. They are for advanced users only)



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Tags- Inside Spyware | What does spyware do to your computer | Is spyware legal? | Is my PC being monitored? | Is Spyware A malware? | How do I get rid of spyware? | Why is spyware dangerous? | Is cell phone spyware legal? | What are the different types of spyware? | How does spyware get on your computer? | How can you prevent spyware? | Is it against the law to spy on someone? | Is it illegal for someone to spy on your phone? | How can you protect your computer from spyware? | Is it legal to spy on someones text messages? | What is anti spyware? | What is spyware software? | What is a computer spyware definition? | What is the difference between a virus and a worm? | How does a spyware spread? | How is spyware removed? | Can spyware change your computer configuration? | How can I find a hidden spyware on my Android? | What is Trojan Horse computer? | Can I remotely install spyware on a cell phone? | How do I stop remote access to my computer? | What is a Trojan? | Who makes a computer virus? | How is a Trojan horse different from other computer viruses? | How can I see recent activity on my computer? | What is a keylogger program?



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