Windows XP: The Complete Guide !

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Mike's Security Guide  


Q: What is Spyware, Adware?

A: Spyware is a general term used for software that performs certain behaviors such as advertising, collecting personal information, or changing the configuration of your computer, generally without appropriately obtaining your consent. You might have spyware or other unwanted software on your computer if:

• You see pop-up advertisements even when you're not on the Web.
• The page your Web browser first opens to (your home page) or your browser search settings have changed without your knowledge.
• You notice a new toolbar in your browser that you didn't want, and find it difficult to get rid of.
• Your computer takes longer than usual to complete certain tasks.
• You experience a sudden rise in computer crashes.

Spyware is often associated with software that displays advertisements (called adware) or software that tracks personal or sensitive information. That does not mean all software which provides ads or tracks your online activities is bad. For example, you might sign up for a free music service, but "pay" for the service by agreeing to receive targeted ads. If you understand the terms and agree to them, you may have decided that it is a fair tradeoff. You might also agree to let the company track your online activities to determine which ads to show you.

Other kinds of unwanted software will make changes to your computer that can be annoying and can cause your computer slow down or crash. These programs have the ability to change your Web browser's home page or search page, or add additional components to your browser you don't need or want. These programs also make it very difficult for you to change your settings back to the way you originally had them. These types of unwanted programs are also often called spyware.

The key in all cases is whether or not you (or someone who uses your computer) understand what the software will do and have agreed to install the software on your computer.

There are a number of ways spyware or other unwanted software can get on your system. A common trick is to covertly install the software during the installation of other software you want such as a music or video file sharing program. Whenever you are installing something on your computer, make sure you carefully read all disclosures, including the license agreement and privacy statement. Sometimes the inclusion of unwanted software in a given software installation is documented, but it may appear at the end of a license agreement or privacy statement.

Also, a great video about Spyware.
A: You'll need some Anti-Spyware tools (All free)

*NOTE: WinPatrol is not an anti-spyware program. It only helps you by showing your startup programs, cookies, IE plug-ins, etc. Read more on there site.

** IMPORTANT: NEVER, EVER, FIX anything without posting your log at any of these

The following Anti-Spyware programs are available for a fee:

Ad-Aware 2007 Pro
Ad-Aware 2007 Plus
WinPatrol Plus
AVG Anti-Spyware
(Always keep your anti-spyware programs updated!)
Here is a good Spyware Prevetion tool. (This tool DOES NOT get spyware off your system, it helps prevent it from being installed.)

You should occasionally run one or all of these online virus scans, in addition to having an Anti-Virus.

You should have a firewall especially if you are on a broadband connection. Here is a great free (software) firewall, and in addition to that it is also good choice to use a
router firewall:

Always have an updated Anti-Virus. Here are some free and great Anti-Viruses:

Anti-Viruses/Internet Suites that are available for a fee:

Sophos Anti-Virus *
TrendMicro Internet Security 2007 *

Be sure to have the latest Internet Explorer 7.0
* and LASTEST updates for your computer from Microsoft Update or if you're on Microsoft Vista, just go to Microsoft Update via Control Panel.

You can also download Firefox
* for additional security. (They say it's safer than Internet Explorer. You can be the judge.)
Thanks for reading, I hope it helped some. If you have any questions/suggestions, feel free to comment.

* = Works with Vista (mostly 32 bit only)

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