+ confessions of a red-headed stepchild: protect your neck

Monday, July 19, 2004

protect your neck

I use the nickname geeekgirl because I work in the computer industry, and not geekgirl because that was already taken at yahoo.com when I setup my first email address in 1998. I wanted to post a little something regarding spyware because it has been the bane of my work existence for the last few months, not to mention at my house when my browser was hijacked and I had to hand delete a ton of entries made to the registry by the big bad CoolWebSearch program that attached itself to my computer.

For those of you who are not very computer savvy I will start with the real basics. Do not install anything on your computer unless you know what it is. And never ever ever install anything that has these keywords attached: buddy, pal, cool, search, tool bar, helper etc...

Now if you remember your computer being much faster in the past, you have a lot of pop-up advertisements, it takes a long time to boot up or respond when you click on things, you may be infected with spyware. Spyware and adware are programs that keep track of that you are doing on the internet and report back to advertising agencies. These programs will sometimes hijack your browser in an attempt to direct your traffic to a certain page and some people have reported their personal information being stolen because these programs create a way for others to access your computer.

I remove these programs at work on a daily basis, sometimes by hand and sometimes using tools available on the internet. other than the obvious privacy issues involved, it becomes a real pain because these programs are running behind the scenes hogging your system resources. If you think you might have spyware or adware on your computer you can download a couple programs that will scan your hard drive and remove the files for you. As long as you are using the software for personal use it is free. I scan my computer once a month just to make sure it stays clean. In addition to virus software, if you spend time surfing the internet spyware removal is a must.

Some programs I recommend:

Spybot Search and Destroy

You can download both of these at download.com

If you have any questions about spyware removal feel free to ask. I have learned a lot the hard way, and have done a lot of manual removal so I know where they hide!

Click here to read an interesting article on the legal proceedings regarding spyware.