Spyware is a type of malware (malicious software) installed on computers that collects information about users without their knowledge. The presence of spyware is typically hidden from the user and can be difficult to detect. Spyware is often secretly installed on a user’s personal computer without their knowledge. However, some spyware such as keyloggers may be installed by the owner of a shared, corporate, or public computer on purpose in order to intentionally monitor users.
History Channel Cyber Security Greg Evan Talks Spyware (Video)
While the term spyware suggests software that monitors a user’s computing, the functions of spyware can extend beyond simple monitoring. Spyware can collect almost any type of data, including personal information like Internet surfing habits, user logins, and bank or credit account information. Spyware can also interfere with user control of a computer by installing additional software or redirecting Web browsers. Some spyware can change computer settings, resulting in slow Internet connection speeds, un-authorized changes in browser settings or functionality of other software.
Sometimes, spyware is included along with genuine software, and may come from an official software vendor. In an attempt to increase the understanding of spyware, a more formal classification of its included software types is provided by the term privacy-invasive software. In response to the emergence of spyware, a small industry has sprung up dealing in anti-spyware software. Running anti-spyware software has become a widely recognized element of computer security practices for computers, especially those running Microsoft Windows. A number of jurisdictions have passed anti-spyware laws, which usually target any software that is surreptitiously installed to control a user’s computer.
Ask Us: How do I protect my system against spyware & How to be Safe on the Internet?
Using the Internet and surfing the web can be as sweet as candy, but not always, as sweet as it is, it’s very easy to type in personal information. Here are a few ways to stay safe during your online activities.
Here are the steps to keep your Windows-based PC safe from Net nasties
1. Do not give out your full name, address, or phone number to anyone online that you don’t trust or don’t know in person. They might not be who they claim to be, so do not trust them if they guess the actual name of the person you are chatting with. To avoid confusing your friends with strangers, make a password you must say (for example, “If you are Ashley, say our password.” Then Ashley will say, “Clever one true not example example totally weird refrigerator magnets banana apple dancing Ugg boots.”). Just mix a bunch of words together and make it pretty hard to guess by a stranger. Also call your friend to make sure he or she is online.
2. Never give out your bank account or credit card information unless you are shopping with a well known or highly rated online business. Check for secure transaction info. The best companies will have many security devices in place. You may see a gold lock at the bottom of the page to indicate a secure site. When giving any bank details or other information, make sure the connection is secure (URLs like this begin with https, a colon (:), and two slashes (//)) and the site is perfectly trustworthy. Not every site which runs HTTPS or accepts payments is trustworthy.
3. Never open e-mail attachments from strangers unless you can trust them and you have security settings on your computer. Some junk e-mails may contain viruses or spyware that can harm your computer. These e-mails may be automatically marked as “spam” or “junk”.
4. Beware of spoof email claiming to be from eBay, PayPal, or a bank or a company name you know asking for personal or sensitive information. This is called phishing. The e-mail may inform you that there is a problem with your account/password. There may be a link to click inside. Forward any of these e-mails to the company it claims to be sent from. They will confirm whether the e-mail you received was real or not. Also, bear in mind that e-mail programs like Yahoo!, MSN, and Gmail will never ask you for your e-mail password. Don’t fall for it.
5. If you decide to meet someone in person from online, go to a public place and let friends and family know your plans. Have an alternate plan if things turn out badly.
6. Get a good anti-virus program, spyware remover, and firewall. There are free programs available online, such as avast! antivirus, Grisoft’s AVG, Microsoft Anti-SpywareWebroot, and Sygate Personal Firewall. They will block most attempts and alert you if problems are found.
7. Read the fine print. There are many survey sites that pay you for answering questions and filling out forms. If you do not want to receive junk mail or get put on a telemarketer list, look for a small box near the bottom of the page that asks if you want to receive information and offers from other companies. The best sites will have a statement listed that they will not sell your name to other companies. Some sites require you to give all your information to get the product. Although sometimes, you may get a ton of spam. Only fill in required fields that are marked with a *. If the info box does not have an asterisk, it is optional and you can leave it blank.
8. Monitor young children’s (under 10) activities closely and use parental controls when available. Use a password a child will not guess. Install parental control software. The Internet isn’t child-friendly.
9. Tell your preteens (under 13) to write down every website they go to. Also monitor them when they are signing up for a website. Also, do not let your children sign up for or any other chat sites, such as MySpace or Facebook. They are focused for an older audience. Refer to External Links for recommendations for children ages 6-13.
10. Change your passwords every month or so. Try not to use the same password more than once at a time. Also, make your password something original, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. A harder way to do it is by mixing up a jumble of letters, but be aware, it might be harder to memorize, so write in on a piece of paper. Keep this hidden from view. Make it exceptionally hard to guess, especially if it has your personal information.
11. Check the URL. Always make sure the site you’re using is really what you think it is before you enter your details or a password. For example, if you want to log in to Facebook, you would check to make sure the site ends with *.facebook.com, not *.facebook-videos.com or anything like that. Usually, when a website ends like that (very close to a popular website), it means that the website wants to try and either get your password or get your personal details.
12. Be careful with your details. Always be careful what you say on the Internet. Only say what you would be happy to say to some random person on the street. (This means on sites like Twitter, Facebook, Bebo, or Myspace.) Don’t say sentences like “I am going to a party at ABC.” or “My name is DEF.” Stuff like that can get you into trouble with people you have never even met before. Remember, once you put your information on the Internet, you don’t know who’s hands it will fall into.
13. Change your password once every set period of time. Make sure to write down your password every time you change it. If you think someone might know your password to something, change it immediately. Changing your password constantly makes it difficult for people to hack into your accounts.
14. Also remember that people might try to get in contact with you to bully you through cyber-bullying..
15. Keep an eye on your child’s Facebook account. If they are bullied on Facebook, you can report it to Facebook and the bully can have their account suspended.
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