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Friday, October 29, 2010

Top 7 Tips to Avoid Spyware on Your Computer

Your access to the Internet is a window to the world. To shield that window, you probably want some shades. Internet use offers great benefits, and many of us rely on it daily to perform our job. However, we all need to keep in mind the pests tapping on our window, which the industry refers to as spyware. Spyware is a piece of a program, individual software, or plug-in that has one, and only one, purpose -- to track your actions. Over the past two years, spyware reports have increased by 167%!
What can spyware really do?
When spyware is installed, you didn't press the "accept" button to have this tracking software installed on your computer. This is because many spyware programs are downloaded and installed automatically when you use free software. Spyware acts like a virus or Internet worm after it has crept inside your computer. Things suddenly do not work as fast or at all. Many times users will have many variants of spyware installed, and it does not get noticed until PC performance is affected.

Spyware has many functions. Some programs simply track the sites you visit and the links you click on. Others capture all keystrokes and mouse clicks, including your user accounts and passwords to the business network and even to your online financial accounts. But what all spyware has in common is the ability to report back to the organization that has programmed the spyware to capture this data. Now for obvious reasons this is illegal, right? No, it is not, simply because many operations occur outside the United States. This is the same reason that spam is so difficult to control and outlaw.
Tips to stop Spyware:
  1. Keep your Windows and Internet Explorer updated and patched.
  2. Use Mozilla FireFox Internet Browser as an alternative to MS Intertnet Explorer
  3. Keep anti-virus up to date.
  4. Read and adhere to your organization's Acceptable Use Policy
  5. Do not install or even download any free software.
  6. Be careful not to click on pop-ups while using the Internet.
  7. Install an anti-spyware tool; many anti-virus companies provide these for free or for very little money per machine.

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