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Malware!

The five types of malware are:

Virus: A virus is a computer program that has been coded to replicate itself and infect a computer without the user’s knowledge. A virus spreads from computer to computer by infecting network files as well as CDs, USB drives, and other forms of removable media.
The best free anti-virus is AVG anti-virus which can be found at http://free.grisoft.com/ .

Trojan horse: Trojan horse or just Trojan is a program which looks legitimate but performs illegitimate actions such as granting full access to the intruder, installing a keylogger, disabling security software and as an invisible downloader and spywares. Spybot Search and Destroy is a free program that can find and delete Trojan horses and spywares. It can be found at http://www.safer-networking.org/en/download/index.html

Adware: Adware (advertising supported software) is a software bundle which automatically downloads and displays advertisements to a computer in which it is installed. Adwares can be classified as privacy invading software. It is seen as a way to recover development costs by software developers. The best program to combat adwares is Ad-Aware 2007 and it can be downloaded at http://www.lavasoftusa.com/products/ad_aware_free.php

Rootkit: A rootkit is a program which has been coded to take complete (or root) control of the system without the user’s knowledge. Rootkits take full control of the operating system and therefore cannot usually be removed by anti-virus software. Rootkits usually modify the boot sector of the operating system or disguise as drivers and load during boot up. As a result, it is usually hard to delete them.

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Adware Overview

Adware is advertising delivered directly to your computer. Generally, a program puts ads on the screen at some regular interval. In some cases, this program can be installed without the user’s knowledge, but not always. Many programs clearly state on install that “this program is supported by advertising, and if you turn off the advertising, you also shut down the program.”

Adware tends to be a “grey area” in the malware family. Yes, it can run without the user’s knowledge, and yes, it can bog down the system (especially when the adware program goes online to retrieve new ads to display). At the same time, adware is generally more open about what it does, giving the user the choice to install the program the adware is attached to.

Adware is most often tied into Internet Explorer somehow. The ads that appear are browser windows.

When it’s installed above-board, adware is generally accepted by the internet community as a valid marketing system, even though it can include elements of spyware (ie, it tracks information, and uses that information to deliver targeted ads to the user). If one user of a system installs adware on a system, and another user is then tracked, then the program crosses the line from adware to spyware–because the second user is being tracked without their consent.

Some other forms of adware have used sneaky programming tricks to hide or cover website advertising. For example, an adware program can read an incoming website, and learn the location of a banner ad on that page. Then, the program can use that information to put an ad of it’s own in the exact same spot, hiding the legitimate ad. This deceptive use of adware is often called “stealware” because it steals the advertising space from the original website.

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Spyware Overview

Imagine a program that watches your computer.

It sits in memory, watching everything the computer does–the websites it displays, the passwords used to get into them, the advertisements that get clicked on. This program silently and secretly gathers all of this information, without the user’s knowledge. Then, at some point, it connects to a server somewhere on the Internet, and hands over this collection–again, without letting the owner of the computer know what it’s done.

Scary thought?

Experts believe that at least six out of ten perhaps as many as nine out of ten computers on the Internet have this kind of malware installed. Like a virus, many spyware programs run without the user’s consent or knowledge.

There is an entire industry devoted to gathering demographics information through the use of spyware, and there is another industry that’s grown to combat spyware.

Spyware is meant to capture “demographics.” This is meant to help advertisers better target their ads. For example, if a piece of spyware reports that the user recently visited websites for car dealerships, then the spyware server would then send ads for cars to the computer.

Many people, however, regard this as an invasion of privacy. Spyware companies claim to only gather “generic” information, like web site addresses and zip codes, but it’s still very easy to gather critical information. Anything entered into a web form can end up in the spyware collection–such things as phone numbers, email addresses, credit card numbers, and even social security numbers can all find their way into a spyware database.

In the end, it comes down to personal preference. Some popular programs have spyware attached, and will quit working if the spyware is uninstalled–so the user has to decide whether that program is worth it.

Provided, of course, the user even knows that the spyware is running on his system.

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