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Recommendations about Spyware What are spyware ? Why spyware is bad ? How not to get spyware How to get rid of spyware I installed anti-spyware software and now program X does not work.

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Recommendations about Spyware

What are spyware ?

Spyware (including adware, malware, or hijacker for example) is a broad software category that covers any program that secretly tracks or records information about you, your computer use or personal information. Often these programs have the ability to report back to a central database computer on the Internet without you knowing it. Since many people now have 'always on' broadband Internet connections, it is easy for spyware software to report it's findings without you ever knowing it.

If you want more details about spyware please read this page.
 

Why spyware is bad ?

Spyware exists for two primary reasons: gathering marketing data, hacking.

Marketing

On the marketing side, spyware might make a record of the programs you have installed on your computer or record every web site you visit. By looking at how you use your computer and where you go, marketing agencies can build a VERY intimate marketing profile of you. Information like this is very valuable to an advertiser but you get nothing in return, except your loss of privacy.

Hacking

On the 'hacking' side, spyware might record every keystroke you make on your computer enabling hackers to 'see' your logins, passwords and credit card numbers as you type them, even if your browser is in a secure session! Spyware could also slowly send all the documents in your 'my documents' folder to someone without you knowing it, or send your Instant Messenger (IM) chat logs! 

How not to get spyware

Spyware can be delivered and installed on your computer in many forms. It is sometimes included in the install package of many popular shareware programs. Sometimes worms or spyware come installed in your favorite operating system or program directly from the manufacturer! Here are some spyware resource lists that will help you check for spyware.

Before you install any shareware or especially FREEWARE, go to the following resources and check to be sure it is not spyware.

http://www.spychecker.com/
http://www.spywareguide.com/
http://virgolamobile.50megs.com/spyware/spyware.htm
http://www.doxdesk.com/parasite/

How to get rid of spyware

The only guaranteed way to remove spyware is to completely re-install your computer system from scratch. You can use the following advice for removing commonly 'known' spyware:

Go to Control-Panel -> "Add/Remove programs" and check if you see strange programs like GATOR, GAIN or HOTBAR, for example. If you find one of them then click on "Remove" to remove it from your system. This may not be enough because spyware can be hidden and therefore not shown in the "Add/Remove" list. For theses cases a third party software is necessary to solve the problem. Here are some programs that can help you to detect and remove spyware:

  • Lavasoft's Ad-Aware 
    Ad-aware is a free multi spyware removal utility that scans your memory, registry and hard drives for known spyware and scumware components and lets you remove them safely. It is updated frequently.

  • PepiMK Software's Spybot "Search & Destroy"
    More powerful in functionality than Ad-Aware, but more complicated for new users.

I installed anti-spyware software and now program X does not work.

Sometimes anti-spyware software is overzealous and blocks legitimate things like the use of cookies to enable web software to work properly. Also, the removal of spyware may make the programs that installed it no longer function. If anti-spyware prevents CERN supported software from working correctly, it must be disabled.