Thursday, August 21, 2008

Good Intentions

I had a great blog topic planned for today on the business of writing and how to manage your time. That topic turned out to be a bit more than I expected, so I'll be chunking it into more manageable bits and posting those on later dates.

Yesterday I spent more time learning about computer virus attacks, or more specifically - non-viral attacks. It seems there are many ways for individuals and businesses to slither in under the radar and leave annoying bits on your PC. Not all are considered viral. Only detrimental - those causing damage to your system - are considered viral. Others might be considered malware, adware, spyware, etc. etc.

As it turns out, not all virus packages are created equal. Some only monitor for those items deemed viral. Others include some, but not all , of the other categories.

Why is this important?

One reason is those "non-detrimental" little packages are gathering information about you and sharing it with strangers - what web sites you visit, for example. Some are selling your email address to advertisers. Some are sharing the contents of your address book. Others are using keystroke monitoring to steal your passwords. All negatively impact your PC performance as they are constantly running in the background. And on it goes.

So, I found two more outstanding freeware packages: Ad-Aware and Spybot Search and Destroy.

The Ad-Aware site says "Award winning ad-aware software, successfullydetects, blocks, and removes Spyware, Adware, Pop-up Ads, Phishing Attacks, Hijackers, Rootkits, Trojans, Drive-By Downloads, Rogue Programs, Messenger Service Ads, Keystroke Loggers, Malicious BHOs,Adaware, Dialers and much more..." You can scan your PC for free and see what it finds.

The Spybot - Search & Destroy site says it "detects and removes spyware, a relatively new kind of threat not yet covered by common anti-virus applications. Spyware silently tracks your surfing behaviour to create a marketing profile for you that is transmitted without your knowledge to the compilers and sold to advertising companies. If you see new toolbars in your Internet Explorer that you haven't intentionally installed, if your browser crashes inexplicably, or if your home page has been "hijacked" (or changed without your knowledge), your computer is most probably infected with spyware. Even if you don't see the symptoms, your computer may be infected, because more and more spyware is emerging. Spybot-S&D is free, so there's no harm giving it a try to see if something has invaded your computer."

Both have enhanced for-fee versions and both provide you with the opportunity to make a financial donation in support of continued freeware development. So try them out. If you like the results, consider making a donation.


Helen said...

I've heard of both of those and don't remember hearing anything negative about either.

Anonymous said...

helpful post, in this day and age of fear of infection. I've used both, and settled on Ad-ware.

Chris Redding said...

We have been using both for years and have made financial donations to keep them alive.
We run them once a week.
When my husband works on anyone's computer it is the first things he runs. Lots of times it clears up half the problems.