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Like it or not, if your PC is connected to the Internet, it has some form of Spyware on it. In the olden days (gosh, what was that... 2 years ago?), “Internet Cookies” were the big concern among novice users. As we came to learn, cookies do not scan your hard drive for credit card info, and are more annoying to disable while browsing than not.

Today, certain forms of Spyware have evolved into a malicious beast. Now our concern is real, and we can no longer pawn it off as just annoying. For example, there are forms of Spyware applications called “key loggers” that can see your every keystroke or “Trojan horses” that actually take control of your PC.

Where did this Spyware come from?

Not surprisingly, most Spyware applications are included with most file-sharing services such as Kazza, Morpheus and LimeWire. If you thought you were getting away with something by downloading FREE stuff, you’re sorely mistaken. The price is your privacy.

How do I get rid of Spyware?

SpybotFor the average user, not very easily. Actually, some forms of Spyware cannot be uninstalled without the help of a third-party software application. SpyBot Search & Destroy by PepiMK Software (SpyBot) is an application that can help you clean your system of Spyware. The best thing about this software is the price; it’s FREE.

Although it sounds simple enough: install the software and run it… , it may be a bit tricky to setup and execute. You don’t want to render your PC useless by removing stuff that you actually want to keep, so use caution when setting up this software.

How do I avoid Spyware?

You can’t. Spyware should be given the same respect a virus has. If you want to be a part of the Internet community, then you’ll also have to put up with the thugs out there who take pleasure in making your experience a bad one.

Having said this, there are a few things you can do to minimize your vulnerability:

  1. Don't be so honest!
    When installing an operating system for the first time or if a new application requires you register it, don’t enter your real name, address, number, etc. If you’ve purchased the license, the software company does not need to know who you are for you to use their software. If they need it for warranty info, then wait until you have a problem before you register, and then do it over the phone.
  2. Use hardware and software firewalls.
    Combine a hardware firewall with a software firewall and monitor outgoing as well as incoming Internet traffic.
  3. Set your Internet browser security to at least medium.
    Anything less than this will allow Active X controls to be installed without your approval. Active X is your best friend and your worst enemy in a Microsoft world.
  4. Be email aware.
    Keep your email virus and Web bug free by using antivirus software and by blocking cookies from known advertising sites.
  5. Get software help.
    Use a Sypware removal program and scan your system regularly.
  6. Avoid file-sharing programs. Programs like Kazaa and Morpheus should be avoided. There is a Spyware-free version of Kazaa called Kazaa Lite available---same great taste, but much less filling!
  7. Use an alias email address.
    If you get stuck and a particular website insists you provide them with your email address before you can continue, then give out a valid email address, but not one you particularly care about. There are gobs of free email account services out there now.
  8. Use good common sense.
    Don’t be tempted to click on things that pop-up on your screen and never provide an unknown site with confidential information about yourself like your social security number. Handing out your phone number is even too much. Try doing a Google search on your phone number; you might be surprised at what you learn.

@ Home Computer Services can help!

At @ Home Computer Services, we have experienced certified technicians ready and willing to help you rid your system of Spyware and stop allowing the Internet to spy on you without your permission. Give us a call or email. You ’ll be safer for it.

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