From:         Bob Rankin 
Subject:      TOURBUS - 02 DEC 2004 - Spyware


The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved

Is your computer running slower than usual? Has your browser's start page been hijacked? Having trouble reaching your favorite search engine? Popups driving you crazy? Most likely your computer is infested with spyware, the cockroaches of the digital age. Read on to learn how to detect and remove these unwelcome pests.

Spy, Counter-spy

A recent audit of 4000 UK firms found the average office PC contains 20 pieces of spyware, including system monitors and trojan horses,
that could put confidential data at risk. And according to Webroot, the company that performed the testing, consumers are even worse off, with an average of 26 potentially malicious pieces of malware.


Chances are, you ARE affected. So what can you do?

Start with a good anti-virus package such as Norton, McAfee, AVG or EZ-Armor. But before you *buy* anything, check with your service provider -- some of them are offering anti-virus software for free. McAfee virus protection is now included with AOL membership, and Road Runner offers their users the EZ-Armor package at no charge. If your ISP isn't offering any freebies, check out the free AVG package from Grisoft at [ ].


Next, make sure your operating system is regularly receiving security fixes and updates. If you use Windows, click on Start->WindowsUpdate to scan your system for critical fixes. Mac users can stay up to date by clicking on Apple->Software Update.



Even with good anti-virus protection, system updates and careful attention to those annoying "Do you want to run and install such-and-such" popups, you can still get hit with spyware. Some programs (most notably peer-to-peer file/music sharing) install others surreptitiously. Toolbars, download helpers, screen savers and email icon packages are often bearers of these nasty pests. And if you have kids, just resign yourself to the onslaught.

My favorite spyware zapper is a free tool called X-RAYPC, which examines all the processes running on your system and rates them as Good, Bad or Unknown. (X-RAYPC was designed as a more functional replacement for the popular HijackThis! system analyzer.) You can kill the nasties and delete them with just a few clicks. I recommend X-RAYPC only for more savvy PC users because it's a very powerful tool and you could delete something important if you're not careful. Check it out at [ ].

For everyday users, the smartest people I know claim that there is no single spyware detection and removal program that does the job. But if you use both of these tools, you should catch most or all of them:

Spybot Search & Destroy -
AdAware -


Share Your Experience

Join the folks who are discussing spyware and viruses in the Tourbus Reader Forums right now. I've been very impressed with the way folks are helping each other and sharing ideas in the forums.

Reader Forums -

The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved

That's all for now, I'll see you next time! --Bob Rankin

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