Spyware effects more than just you
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Those of you who have known me for a while have surely
heard my standard harangue about keeping your computer free of viruses
programs are those nasty “Trojan
Horse” programs that get installed on your machine in a number
of ways. They often masquerade as interesting or fun programs. In fact,
they often perform some useful task, but in the background they could
be performing any number of nasty procedures. It can cause pop-up windows
to appear, track your web browsing, slow your machine to a crawl or worse.
It is the “or worse” that should concern you. One of the most
insidious features of some Spyware is to turn your machine into a zombie.
That term probably calls up visions of Night
of the Living Dead and that comparison is an apt one. Once infected
by one of these programs, your computer can be “taken over”
and controlled by a spammer or hacker and used to perpetrate attacks on
other computers all over the world. Even worse, these Spyware purveyors
are not just using these zombies for their own purposes, but selling these
networks of zombies to others.
According to TechDirt.com, “USA
Today is running a series of articles about various "bad things"
happening on the internet, from spyware to phishing attacks to zombies,
and one of the sidebar items looks more closely at the zombie problem,
suggesting a network of 20,000 zombie machines can be leased for $2,000
to $3,000.” (How
much for a network of zombies, TechDirt.Com, Septmber 8, 2004)
So, if you decide to ignore the threat of viruses and Spyware, you aren’t
just effecting yourself, you are potentially effecting everyone else on
the Internet. Wow, who would’ve thought it! This escalation of the
Spyware game really behooves all of us to be more aware of the problem.
It is bad enough when Spyware messes up our own machines, but if your
machine is turned into a zombie and starts spewing SPAM or attacking other
computers, your ISP (Internet Service Provider) could end up turning off
your Internet connection and blaming you for the attack.
It is fairly easy to protect yourself from Spyware and viruses, even if
it does cost a few dollars. While anti-virus programs are commercial items,
available from your local retailer, either online or storefront, anti-spyware
items are free for non-commercial use. That means that if you are using
them for your home computers, you don’t have to pay a dime. Of course,
you might want to purchase the program to get additional features, or
donate a few pennies to help the developer produce the next version of
As you may have noticed, Spyware and viruses are more prevalent on Windows
computers than Macintosh. This is NOT to say that Macs are immune, only
that they are less of a target for a number of reasons. There are fewer
Macs in the world, so infecting them has less of an effect, and Microsoft’s
integration of Internet features into Windows has led to some dramatic
security flaws which has made it easier to infect. I have seen and dealt
with Mac viriuses in the past, so I still recommend an anti-virus program
as protection against past viruses and any new ones that might come along.
Keep your machine free of Spyware and viruses not only as a service to
yourself, but everyone else enjoying the benefits of the Internet around
Here are my recommendations for anti-virus and anti-spyware products.
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