VISUAL NEWSLETTER – MAR 2007                        

 


SPYBOT ANTI-SPYWARE

 

One of the programs we typically install on new computers and during system tune-ups is an excellent Anti-Spyware program called Spybot Search & Destroy. It is currently a free program provided by a programmer in Europe and its distribution is now worldwide via the Internet. Many University Computer Science Programs utilize it to keep their computers free of performance robbing and intrusive software that is all too easy to pick up on the Internet today. There are two main malicious program groups that Spybot removes, Adware and Spyware. It also provides protection from deliberately malicious web-sites that install software without permission.

 

Adware, in general, primarily causes additional ads to pop-up, most frequently when you are on the internet, but they can even pop-up on your desktop with some of these silly programs.  Adware is usually packaged with other software that you have downloaded. Free Screensavers, Tool Bars, Search Assistants and even some free Anti-Viruses come bundled with Adware. If you read the small print before you click OK you might even find a small warning to that extent but not always. The Internet is very difficult to regulate.

 

Spyware consists of programs that effectively spy on what you do with your computer. Some programs just report back to various marketing companies the web-sites that you visit frequently and such basic information. Others will even try to capture your credit card numbers, passwords and personal data for various fraudulent reasons.

 

Spybot 1.4 can be downloaded free of charge from a number of sites but requires a little knowledge to keep it up to date and protecting you against the ravages of the large variety of software menaces floating around out there. While the program is free to download and use, the owner suggests donations to maintain and further improve the product and to that extent I have donated several times since I find it quite useful.

 

The home web-site of the developer is:

 

www.safer-networking.org/en/download/index.html

 

There are a number of other sites you can download from. A Google search will direct you to other download sites. Be careful since several other products have adopted similar names, which can cause confusion when downloading it. Once you install the product it will guide you through the initial updates, but you are far from finished at that point if you want the level of protection to be maximized and maintained.

 

At the end of the installation and at least once a month thereafter, preferably once a week, you need to do the following within the program:

 

1)    Check for Updates & Download Them

 

2)    Check The Immunization Status after each update and re-immunize if recommended.

 

3)    Run “Check For Problems” each month and whenever you suspect problems.

 

4)    Select “Fix Problems” at the end of the procedure to remove unwanted guests.

 

Please note that removing unwanted Adware may deactivate the program that it was packaged with. Programs like Kazaa detect the removal of their Adware components and refuse to run once they have been removed, as part of the monetary agreement with the related Adware company.

 

Remember, Spybot is not a substitute for a good Anti-Virus but rather a valuable addition to your Internet protection arsenal. Also, remember that with a few notable exceptions, there are few things free on the Internet. Most companies are in the business of making money. They do this by either charging for their products, distributing a partial program version with upgrade options or packaging their software with Adware.

 

Notable exceptions are:

 

AVG Free Anti-Virus

Adobe Acrobat Reader

Apple Quicktime & iTunes

Spybot Search and Destroy