Spyware and Malware Basics

Spyware has become one of the biggest problem facing Internet users today. Spyware programs have become so ubiquitous that the issues associated with Spam and computer viruses pale in comparison to spyware. Spyware is indeed an epidemic and we Internet users need to arm ourselves with information and tools to protect our computers, our privacy and our identities.

Spyware consists of dozens of malicious formats, including adware, sneakware, worms, Trojans, keyloggers, browser hijackers and pornography servers.

Spyware is actually a form of malware. Malware is malicious software that is built to harm your computer and your network, or it’s designed to ultimately hurt you by robbing your online bank accounts, pilfering your credit cards, and robbing you of your financial identity.

Malware finds its way onto our computers via downloads, the malware is hidden inside what we believe to be harmless download software. Once the malware is installed onto our computers, it begins to collect and record data from our computers. From there the malware broadcasts our private data to cybercriminals who are having a field day with peoples’ identities.

The list of the types of data that malware can track is pretty scary. Keystrokes, passwords, bank account numbers, stock trading account numbers, credit card numbers and social security numbers. Malware can also observe and log information so that it can, in turn, send you pop-up ads and Spam. The malware can redirect your web browser to phishing sites and pornography sites. Try explaining that to your boss.

Malware operates covertly, it can function without appearing in your Task Manager. To make things worse, malware sometimes has the ability to withstand un-installation efforts. Special spyware removal tools are typically required to delete malware from your computer system. Spyware and malware have a far-reaching broad effect on Internet users – much broader than the computer viruses that plagued us in the recent past.

The Origins of Malware

Malware originates from programmers who have very questionable motives. They are basically cybercriminals looking to make a quick buck off of innocent Internet users – victims. Malware typically finds its way to your computer via Internet downloads – such as file sharing, free downloads, utility updates and from video player or music player updates.

Some malware downloads, though done covertly, are actually legal. Some ‘free download’ vendors include specific language in their End User License Agreement that says something like “the user authorizes the installation of third-party software onto his computer”. And since most of us quickly click the “I Accept” button before reading the fine print… we inadvertently agree to have malware downloaded onto our computers.

The Negative Impacts of Malware

Malware can affect us in many ways from Spam and pop-up ads to identity theft. Following is a summary, listed in order of severity, of how malware can be used to ruin our otherwise, perfect day. Malware:
Displays pop-up ads via adware
Sends you Spam
Impacts the performance of your browser and the overall performance of your computer
Redirects your browser to advertising and phishing sites
Steals personal information such as your email address book
Takes over your computer and broadcasts their files from your computer
Records your key presses in search of passwords and account information

Fending off Malware Attacks

To avoid becoming a victim of malware and spyware, you can acquire an anti spyware program to protect your computer. Good spyware removal programs find and delete all intrusions, and screen all data that comes in contact with your computer. By following the four-step process, below, your will have a fighting chance to avoid malware and the issues that accompany it.

1.Find a reputable antivirus spyware removal vendor – do your research, find the best spyware removal vendors such as McAfee and Symantec and Malwarebytes.
2.Scan all data before you download it onto your computer.
3.Update your anti spyware software regularly.
4.Protect yourself from malware, adware, spyware and computer viruses by only downloading data from known sources.

Malware Summary

Malware and spyware are very dangerous – we should all be very aware of how we interact with online data. We should all use good anti spyware tools to protect us, and we should update our anti spyware and malware tools regularly to keep up with the latest technological threats.

by  Kate g

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