Saturday, January 19, 2008
When Spyware is Already Inside
According to Dell technical support, 12 percent of their support calls involve problems related to some kinds of Spyware. Microsoft reports that fifty percent of all computer crushes are caused by Spyware, viruses and Trojans. Thus, it is quite possible your PC is infected this very moment. How did it happen? There are many ways, but most of them are paved through Internet connection. You do not need to surf any dubious websites to open the doors for spyware nasties. It may happen when you search for something on Google or any other search engine. You click on several links, and one of them suddenly redirects you to some crappy page. You close it and continue your search, unaware of spyware already happily installed and doing it s job. Remember: unlike virus, spyware does not need to be executed by user to start its activity! So, when PC is infected with spyware, what happens behind the scene? Key logging: keyloggers copy everything you type to a file and send it to the hacker. The more sophisticated type, which is used for identity theft, copies the information you provide when you are connected to a secure website. You never know there s a keylogger spying on every key you press. Windows Task Manager do not show the corresponding process, and anti-virus software often fails to detect keyloggers. Do you type passwords for online banking? Now you can imagine someone knowing all of your hard-to-crack passwords. Browser hijacking: spyware is capable of changing your start page, search page, search tool bar and redirect your url to specific pages. It takes complete control of what webpages you visit, block certain websites and redirect you to sites you should stay a mile away. Email redirecting: surreptitiously copies all your incoming and outgoing emails and sends to the hacker. Did you believe email to be private? It s gone public thanks to spyware. There are cases when people find there private correspondence published on blogs. Dialers: this spyware install themselves to your dial-up settings and dials numbers without your knowledge, often to out of country numbers. You may be paying for traffic generated by criminals, and you are solely responsible for that. Proxy-servers: these are computers used to provide anonymity. Hackers use proxies when attacking government websites. If your computer is acting like a proxy, you may be filed for investigation. And police will find all traces of illegal activities on your PC. Collectware: the purpose of this type of spyware is to track your surfing habit and transmitting the statistical data to the hacker. This information later gets sold to advertisement companies. And you may have floods of ads delivered to your desktop without ever asking for that. BTW, ParetoLogic Anti-spyware fights all these types of spyware and prevents them from ever installing again. What spyware makes to your user experience usually is: unusual activity of hard-drive when you re doing nothing that could cause HDD to spin like crazy; Windows loading very slow, often with strange errors displayed; overall productivity of Windows considerably decreases. Word takes ages to load, browser opens in multiple windows that clog the desktop space with ads you never want your children to see; Running anti-virus scan doesn t seem to resolve the problems; Still worse, anti-virus programs may be targeted by spyware and lose the ability to detect malware. Some spyware programs will sabotage the programs designed to detect and eliminate them. Head over to XoftSpy antispyware to download a FREE step-by-step guide on managing online privacy at home. Kelly Wright is an author and consultant who writes about Internet privacy management issues, and publishes articles related to PC security maintenance.