Spyware, Adware, Malware : the solution

Lately I’ve been seeing a LOT of computers that are running slow. Some of these have popups that come up when the computer starts, some have a popup when first on the internet.. Some have favorite places that the customer never visited. Some won’t even connect to the internet.

These are all victims of spyware. Severe cases of spyware can be as hard to remove as a computer virus, and can do as much damage. Spyware has become the fastest growing concern among computer users today. You’ll also hear people refer to Spyware as Adware or Malware. These are all basically the same things, not quite as nasty as a computer virus, but not something you want on your computer either.

So what exactly does Spyware do?

Spyware steals your information from your computer. It also slows your computer down by installing unneccesary programs and processes.

Spyware steals your personal information, name, address, phone number, email address, system information, and more. The information keeps flowing out outside by way of the Internet as long as the spyware program is active.  In most cases the computer will be slow.  Sometimes your internet homepage could be changed.  In other instances, the spyware may just record what is happening on your computer such as the websites you visit, and never give any clues to you that it is there.

How to do you get spyware?

The easiest way to get spyware is by installing it or installing a program that contains it.

Types of programs that can contain spyware: Free Screen Saver, Free image file for desktop background, Toolbar for Internet Explorer, Shopping Toolbar, Music or media Players.  See the CNN Video here concerning Safe Surfing on the Internet.

This is not to say all image files for desktops are all infected. I use Google Images to find my desktop backgrounds. After I find the picture, I right click and SAVE AS. I do not like any program that offers to rotate your desktop images.  As for media players, I like VLC MediaPlayer, it seems to play just about anything I can throw at it. For music I prefer Foobar music player. Toolbars: once again, not all toolbars are spyware. I like and use the Google Toolbar. I do see a lot of infected computers that come in with the Freeze.com screensaver program. I won’t say its spyware, but I’m not putting it on my computer.

Spyware can also come bundled with shareware or other downloadable software, as well as music CDs. The user downloads a program (for instance, a music program or a file-trading utility) and installs it, and the installer additionally installs the spyware. Limewire is a good example of this.

Lately I’ve seen legitimate real programs that have come bundled with spyware or toolbars. Be careful about what you download and where you get the program from. Once I find a program I want, I look at the website and decide if it looks safe. Most of the time I generally try and download directly from the software company’s website or a trusted website like Cnet Downloads or MajorGeeks.com.

Regardless of where you get the program, pay attention when you install it. Sometimes a new program will ask if you want to install a Toolbar. Don’t just click YES, unless you want the toolbar.

I think I have Spyware or a Virus how do I get rid of it?

Do you have a good antivirus program? If so, update it and run it immediately. Everyone has their favorite AV program. Some are better than others, some are viruses themselves. For the last 5 years I’ve been using Avira AntiVir Personal – Free Antivirus . Here’s how you can set Avira to automatically update and scan nightly for the maximum protection. Every computer I sell/service comes with Avira installed and set to automatically update and run nightly. Avira handles some kinds of spyware as well.

As for Spyware, Adware, Malware, there are lots of tools on the market, and everyone has their favorite. I use Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware to clean and remove Malware/Adware/Spyware. I install it on every computer I service/sell and include instructions on how to use it as well.

Too confusing? Worried about ‘breaking’ or messing up your computer?

Call me at 251-418-4286 for more info or to set something up…