Spyware : An Internet Plague
As spyware threats continue to grow the methods by which users are infected becomes less and less difficult. It no longer takes physical access to a computer nor do users have to click on an ad or email attachment to install the malicious applications. Spyware can easily be picked up by visiting a web site. Spyware is put on computers commonly when users download freeware or shareware. Once you download these programs, spyware and adware are installed as well.
You may begin to notice more pop ups and slower computer functions once spyware has infected your system. Spyware moves through your computer and monitors your internet habits and the information is sent to a third party who uses it for advertising purposes most likely. More serious types of spyware are capable of recording each keystroke you make on your computer. This means every chat or email message as well as passwords, social security and credit card number are all recorded by the intruder.
Several different types of spyware exist, which makes catching and removing the invasive applications even more difficult. Adware is the most common form of spyware. It works by sending you pop up ad after pop up ad for various products and services while you are online. Adware also monitors your internet surfing habits and sells that information to other parties who then use it to bombard you with junk email and spam.
Another form of dangerous spyware comes as browser hijackers. These applications get into your computer and change your start page and preferred search engine to a site full of ads or adult material. Browser hijackers are typically also a data miner which reports all of your internet browsing habits to a central database that is sold to other parties.
One of the most dangerous and malicious spyware programs is keyloggers, which are used mostly for identity theft and credit card fraud. Keyloggers can record every piece of information you type in your computer from credit card numbers to social security numbers and banking information.
Probably the most expensive form of spyware that users have to deal with is a modem hijacker. Also known as dialers, these applications install themselves so they can use your internet connection to dial long distance or premium rate phone numbers.
By dialing these remote areas from your connection you are the one charged for the outrageous rates. To remove any current spyware infections users need to obtain two or more anti-spyware programs. These programs can scan your system, compile a list of infected files and remove them to restore normal setting and functioning. Ad Aware from Lavasoft and Spybot Search and Destroy are two free spyware tools that work well together in catching all possible spyware infections. To avoid future spyware threats from infecting your computer do not click on links or ads offering free movies, competitions, prizes or software.
Installing and keeping a firewall activated on your computer can help reduce the amount of spyware infections. And having a good anti-virus program is essential, although it cannot detect most forms of spyware it will help keep your computer more secure.
Guest Columist Mitch Johnson is a successful freelance author that writes regularly for 1st Remove Spyware , a site that focuses primarily on spyware detection software, as well as tips on how to avoid spyware from popping up on your computer.