Everyone who owns or uses a computer knows about computer viruses
or at least has heard of them. What about worms? Not so familiar. And
then there is spyware.
Spybot Search & Destroy
Patrick M. Kolla, Spybot Search & Destroy (Spybot-S&D)
TEN SPIDER ENTERPRISES RECOMMENDED PRODUCT
What Is Computer Spyware?
Computer spyware is any computer software placed onto your
computer for the purpose of supplying information to an outside source
without your knowledge or consent. Only a small number of internet
users understand spyware programs, how they work and the security threat
computer spyware poses.
Unlike viruses, which are designed to be either disruptive or destructive,
some computer spyware has actually been designed with good intentions in
mind. This presents a dilemma, because the very nature of computer spyware
is invasive. How does one determine which spyware is benevolent and
which is malicious, and how do you screen out the bad while leaving the
The difference between good and bad computer spyware lies
within the distinction between collecting information and
stealing it. While there are some who would argue that no
information should be collected from internet users under any circumstances,
practicality dictates that this not be so. Without data collection,
internet commerce could not exist; credit card numbers and shipping
addresses, for example, are two types of information that may be required
to complete a purchase. In fact, the internet itself could not
exist for public use under a cloak of absolute privacy because
information must be passed back and forth simply to establish an internet
connection to your home or a link to a website.
Concern, then, lies not so much with regard to data collection,
but with the type of information collected, the manner in which it is
acquired, and the intent behind its use. Software programs designed
to defeat computer spyware, referred to as spyware removers,
spyware cleaners, spyware eliminators, spyware
killers, spyware nukers, spyware blasters,
spyware blockers or antispyware (anti-spyware), offer
various levels of spyware detection. Antispyware software can determine
whether a computer program or cookie is spyware by how it behaves, but
will never be able to determine intent.
How Does Spyware Get on
One of the worst features of computer spyware is that your antivirus
software cannot detect or defeat spyware because you grant spyware access
to your computer. Of course, you do not do this willingly;
computer spyware typically rides in on the back of another program you
download or gains access through security holes in your browser. You
will not even know it is there unless you observe unusual traffic in your
firewall logs or if your computer begins to run slowly, misbehave or
crash (all common side effects of computer spyware). Once in your
system, spyware can do anything from tracking and reporting your movements
as you surf the internet (known as keystroke logging)
to altering your browser settings to (worst case scenario)
intercepting credit card numbers, passwords and other personal
information you may enter into your computer or have stored on your
Spyware Removers and
Nearly everyone has this nasty junk on their computers. At Ten Spider
Enterprises, we employ
Spybot Search & Destroy to maintain proper
spyware security. We have found Spybot-S&D to be an excellent
spyware remover. When run with its Resident TeaTimer protection
and updated regularly, Spybot-S&D provides a high level of
spyware protection. Combining this attribute with ease of use and free
download and updates has earned Spybot-S&D our TEN SPIDER
ENTERPRISES RECOMMENDED PRODUCT designation.
Is Spyware Ever Useful?
As mentioned above, not all computer spyware is malicious or invasive.
Merchants use spyware (in the form of browser cookies) to
track your purchases and activity at their websites so they may
serve you better and provide proper compensation to advertisers or
affiliates who have directed you to their sites. This is a legitimate use
of the technology. Removal of such tracking may be counterproductive
and unfair to those who attempt to make a living through
pay-for-performance advertising. But when data mining entities
track your internet surfing habits without your knowledge or consent, the
line has been crossed. This is a definite invasion of your privacy. It
is done every day.
How Do I Protect Myself
Finally, it should be mentioned that shareware, freeware, browser toolbars,
Trojan Horse viruses and unfamiliar websites, especially some
country-specific websites, are typical sources of computer spyware.
While there are many other sources, these are especially notorious as
spyware carriers. Before you download or install a product whose source
is not familiar, even if your friend Joe recommends it as being
“really cool”, always perform an internet search to ascertain
whether other computer users are complaining about the product. While
this is no guarantee that your computer will remain free of infestation,
diligence combined with a good spyware remover certainly improves your
chances of maintaining a threat-free computer and internet environment.
Authored by Kenneth L. Anderson.
Original article published 30 April 2003, updated 13 September
Ten Spider Enterprises would like you to understand threats that exist on
the internet and how you can properly react to these internet threats to
keep your computer and personal information safe. Follow links to
the right to learn about sources of information relating to computer
spyware, spyware removers and other antispyware topics. Our
Software section provides additional solutions to help secure
your computer against internet threats. In particular, good free
security software can be obtained through our Security Software section
for personal use, although in most cases business users are required to
purchase. Computer security does not have to be difficult; it
does require diligence.