Private Property - Keep Out

Trespassers Beware the sign says on our property but the real invasion of our privacy happens 24/7 on our computers! The single largest threat to our privacy and the smooth running of our computers is spyware. Also known as Ad-ware or Malware, spyware is the most common infection crashing PCs today. Estimates are that 90% of high-speed Internet users are infected with Spyware. The first symptom is "My PC seems slow!" Spyware is similar to viruses, in that it arrives unannounced and then does something undesired. Spyware violates your privacy by tracking web sites you visit, changing their content to add advertising, and firing up a series of pop-ups. Spyware often adds "features" you didn't ask for. The worst offenders hijack normal functions for themselves - for example redirecting your web searches and home page to other sites. A new and alarming trend is spyware that helps hackers steal your identity! Spyware can contain key-logging software. A key-logger notes every keystroke and reports back to the hacker. This includes account numbers and passwords! Hackers are even using vulnerabilities in Spyware to break into your PC and download viruses!

The most common way to get spyware is to download file-sharing software, toolbars, and free programs. Spyware developers depend on your fascination with freebies. Don't invite spyware by breezing through prompts and not reading licensing agreements. Even when you remove the original "carrier" software, the spyware remains on your PC, sending information out every time you connect to the Internet. And it gets worse, time and time again this type of software is found to be the cause of crashes, PC freezes, shutdowns, etc. Sometimes, warning prompts keep popping up until you finally give up and say yes. In a technique known as drive-by downloading, code within pop-up ads or on Web sites that offer free music, games or pornography can make PCs download spyware with no warning.

The golden rule is, NEVER download any software unless you KNOW that it is safe, especially if it is free and claims to make your Internet experience better. Many of the worse offenders are "toolbars". The good news is that, like virus scanners, there are spyware scanners that will locate and remove the offending software.

Quick Tip-Bit: Currently I recommend installing 3 different anti-spyware programs! The 1st is Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. It will scan your entire PC and kill spyware, malware, and even fix settings that can allow spyware to infect your PC. It often finds hundreds of spyware "objects" when first run! The 2nd program is Spybot Search & Destroy by Patrick M. Kolla and Safer Networking. Spybot will scan for spyware and then kill it! It has an Immunity feature that will prevent further infestations. Last is SpywareBlaster. This program by Javacool Software stops bad ActiveX programs from running by setting a "kill bit" in the Registry. This will stop ActiveX drive-by spyware from installing itself. If you have any questions call PC Bits at 763-360-2163.

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