« Johnny Be Good | Main | Aim! »

Spyware

Have you ever heard of "spyware"? Spyware, aka adware, is a hidden program that collects your personal information in the background via your Internet connection. These programs, in most cases, come with freeware or shareware programs and are installed in your computer without your knowledge. Some will also come disguising themselves as cookies on the Net.

It seems, however, that spyware is not always a malicious kind of software. Providers of such software say the information collected is used only for advertisement purposes and in no way does it carry your personally identifiable information. Some applications do state in the licence agreement section that they are using that kind of programs, which I suppose most users, including me, won't read through, though.

Still, there is no guarantee that the information is used in a sound way. Besides, even if they were no malicious, I wouldn't be comfortable at all with, say, my Internet browsing habits monitored by a weird stuff hidden somewhere in my PC.

I, at one time, was shocked to know that GetRight, a download manager program I had long used, was listed among the programs that were using spyware/adware. So I haven't installed it in my new computer. Today, thinking of blogging about spyware, I visited its website to see if they had done anything for it. To my joy, they have published detailed explanations about the adware they have used, and ensured that they no longer contain that kind of stuff in their newer versions. I think I'll start using it again.

For those who have privacy and security concerns, there are some programs on the Net that are kind enough to detect spyware agents on your system. I downloaded a free program called Ad-Aware (thanks, roba-san) and scanned my PC with it. Oh my, six weird agents were found. So I removed them. Feel secured. But I wonder how they got into my machine. I think I'll have to run this spy-buster once in a while.

Comments

Make sure you also download Lavasoft's Refupdate 2.0. This program allows you to download the latest list of known spyware. The current version of the signaturefile is 042-24.09.2002 (Note: the first 3 numbers are nothing, but the next ones are Day, Month, Year ). You can check to see what signaturefile you have by opening Ad-ware and looking at the bottom of the box. I run Ad-aware at least once a week and run refupdate once a month. You can get the spyware files by just visiting websites. :-(

For a download manager, I use MetaProducts' Download Express (go to www.metaproducts.com scroll to the bottom of the page and see the link for it on the left.) It is free, and free of adware or spyware.

Hope that helps.

Oh, thanks, tatroyer! I'll download the program. Also I'll go to see the download manager. :)