January 20, 2004

Adware and spyware, the new threats to your computer, what are they and how do they get installed on your computer?

The last few months have been a very busy trying to clean up people's computers from the adware and spyware they've installed unknowingly. As with viruses, these programs can wreak havoc on your computer and your patience. My recommendations to keep from having problems are BE VERY CAREFUL of what you download from the Internet. These adware and spyware programs can only be installed if you download a program and install it on your computer.

They are installed behind the scenes, and some are almost impossible to remove. Adware is a program from a company, who vendors pay to make pop up ads appear on your computer trying to get you to buy their products. Most times these programs, once loaded, talk back and forth, in the background, to the adware web site which directs your computer to show ads ranging from mortgages to porn. Many times it is one ad after another. Sometimes your home page is changed to an ad site and you will go nuts with all the ads you get. There are programs to protect you from getting adware and removing cookies and files related to adware, but in my experience, these programs have a very limited success rate, and once you have adware on your computer, they don't seem to work very well with trying to remove it.

How do you keep from getting adware installed on your computer. It's simple, sites like the music sharing, etc. install the programs, so don't download the software. Be very careful of screensavers and toolbar programs. I personally won't download anything unless it is very important for me to have it and I make sure the source is trustworthy.

Check the PC magazine sites for recommendations of software to download, but again, be careful since they also have programs for download which can contain these adware programs. I find it rather ironic that the magazines will do a review of pop up prevention software and then provide a link to the magazine web site to download the software. What happens when you go to their page? You guessed it, you will get several pop up ads on their page too. By the way, pop up prevention programs usually won't stop adware from popping up.

Spyware is yet another threat. Spyware keeps tract of your surfing habits and many times some of your personal information. Again, it will communicate with the author's web site to impart the data it has collected and then they will use the information to try to get you to buy products.

BE VERY CAREFUL when you are on the Internet. If you want software, buy it from a company you can trust and don't fall for all the cutesy add-in programs you see. The Internet is no different than the real world when it comes to legal and ethical issues. Sometimes it is better to spend a few bucks and purchase a program or music CD than to try to save the money and have problems. Believe me, removing adware, spyware, and viruses is not cheap and sometimes, it can't be removed, which means a format and system restoration.

Here is a list of some programs known be or to contain adware and spyware programs:

Surfer Bar
Bonzi Buddy
Click To Find Now
Comet Cursor
Date Manager
Fast Search
Search Space
Global Finder
Global Toolbar
Go Hip
Hunt Bar
People On Page Toolbar
Precision Time
Save Now
New Dot Net
Speed Blaster
Memory Meter
Weather Bug

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Please Note: All information provided in The Help Desk web site is in easy to understand terms, in my opinion only, and may not necessarily be the only accepted answers or advice.  I will not be responsible for any problems caused from anyone making any configuration or hardware changes to their computer system resulting from information obtained from this web site.  Please contact me prior to using any content from this web site.