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SPYWARE - Who's Watching Who?

Based on where you go while browsing the World Wide Web, companies collect information and direct advertisements to your computer in accordance with the material that you peruse. That kind of programming is called Spyware. And it scares me!

Feb 20, 2004

By Greg Richburg
Netricks, Inc.

I am in the midst of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. “The basis of optimism is sheer terror.” With that attitude, I praise their skills only for the mere sake of not wanting them to defile mine, or my business.

I am talking about hackers, crackers, phreakers, and those pesky buggers that throttle our lives daily with Spam, new Trojans, e-mail containing viruses, and worms. And what about pop-ups? How many people do you know that like them? Do they benefit your business, or merely slow down your production?

Did you install that “My Search” or “HotBar” toolbar on purpose?” Did you know that there are programs on your PC that direct advertisements to your screen? Purify your system and live free within your private network.

SPYWARE

Based on where you go while browsing the World Wide Web, companies collect information and direct advertisements to your computer in accordance with the material that you peruse. That kind of programming is called Spyware. And it scares me! Not that I have anything to hide “Big Brother.” And to think 1984 was 20 years ago.

Spyware is put in your computer to secretly gather information about you and relay it to advertisers or other interested parties. Spyware can get in your computer as a software virus or as the result of installing a new program. Spyware is often installed as an addition to free software you downloaded from the Internet (like Kazaa, shhhh…)

Not to forget ADWARE…

You must have agreed to the download and installation. That is the only difference. Read the fine print next time you install an application. You will be surprised by what you have agreed to.

I serviced a small office recently that had so much junk programming on their systems that their users literally could not work on them. As soon as they turned on their computer, they were flooded with pop-ups and their e-mail was drenched with spam. They were desperate. A good hour per PC, and they were back in operation. But when it comes to e-mail, enough Spam can permanently ruin an account.

SPAM, eggs, spam and more spam

Spammers typically send a piece of e-mail to a distribution list in the millions, expecting that only a tiny number of readers will respond to their offer. Please do not respond! Like the telemarketers that call every night during dinner, do we like this stuff people? I wonder, do the people who send Spam ever get Spam?

Are you tired of these problems yet? There are ways to minimize the pain.

RULES
Number 1: Do not use peer-to-peer file sharing applications at work. Kazaa, Morpheus, BearShare… They will only get your computer in trouble.

Number 2: Stay far away from Internet Browser enhancing toolbars. Less is more. And regardless of what they tell you, they do sell your information to advertisers.

Number 3: Never sign up for anything with your business e-mail address. If you do, read the small print. You are probably agreeing to have your address distributed to various marketing companies, which as a result, will get you Spammed.

TO CONCLUDE

There are many more basic guidelines to follow, and if done so, you will have cleared another minefield in keeping your business productive. Cleanse your systems regularly. If you don’t know how, hire someone to show you. A simple, low cost maintenance plan will save you a bundle of hassle and pave the way to network reliability.

All past articles written by Greg Richburg are available at http://www.netricks.com/news. Please address article suggestions to: info@netricks.com.

Greg Richburg a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and the owner of Netricks, Inc. a network consulting, web design and hosting company located in Fresno, CA. Visit Netricks at http://www.netricks.com.

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