SimpliTek Technology Minute

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What Do You Know About Spyware?

SimpliTek is a computer and network consulting company dedicated to helping small businesses make the most of their investment in technology. If we can be of service to you, please call or email us!


We have been encountering a lot of programs on clients' computers which fall into the category of Spyware or Parasites. These are programs that have been installed and are usually running all the time, which waste your computer's horsepower, generate endless pop-up ads and report the websites you visit to marketing companies. (!)

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How did I get this software on my computer?
Music download software such as Kazaa, Morpheus, Grokster, Limewire, etc. often installs parasites. There are also endless tricks that companies pull to get you to click on a pop-up so that they can install their spyware. One of the most insidious is a pop-up ad that is designed to look like a Windows error message, which tricks you into clicking on it, either to make the message go away or to "fix" something on your computer. The action of clicking in the window installs the program. Then there are "drive-by installs" - the mere act of going to a certain website causes the program to be installed without your knowledge or acceptance.

2. What does this software do?
a) Generates lots of pop-up ads.
b) Watches the sites you visit on the Web and reports those sites to targeted marketing companies who can then inundate you with more ads.
c) Opens the door to the stealth installation of other programs, hackers taking charge of your computer and virus attacks.
e) Drains resources on your computer making it run sluggishly.
f) Worst case: uses your modem to dial toll numbers and run up your phone bill.

3. How can I tell if I have this software?
If you suddenly see an increase in the number of pop-ups, you may have inadvertently loaded a spyware program. We recognize a lot of the parasites by name, and when we see them we automatically remove them because they are 99% harmful. You can check to see if you have these by looking at the Add/Remove Programs list in Control Panel, or by looking for subfolders by these names under Program Files. Any program whose name you do not recognize may very well be a parasite. If you see a program and can't identify it, call us.

4. What are some of the ones you see quite often?
We see the following most often: BargainBuddy, HotBar, DownloadWare, Gator, BonziBuddy,  InternetWasher, NewDotNet, OnlineDialer, SaveNow, webHancer, Xupiter, PrecisionTime and MySearch. But there are hundreds more of them. Usually we can look at a list of software installed on a machine and have a pretty good idea what is legitimate and what is suspect. Here is a site that has a pretty comprehensive list.

5. Is there any way I can prevent getting these programs?
The best way is to never download anything from the Internet. Stop using Kazaa, Morpheus, Grokster and other music-sharing programs, and uninstall them. Never click on a pop-up ad anywhere except the red X to delete it. Teach your children to treat any "free offer" from any website as dangerous and undesirable. "Opt out" of every possible "free offer" and "mailing list" that you can. If a program requires you to accept other programs as a condition of proceeding with the install, abort the whole process - legitimate software seldom requires that you also load other software.

6. How do I get rid of these programs?
Some of them are listed under Add/Remove Programs and can simply be uninstalled. Others can be removed through the use of programs like Ad-Aware and Spybot. However, some of these parasites are designed to resist uninstallation, and these require special efforts such as editing the Registry on your computer (a huge database of settings used by Windows), finding and deleting program folders, and removing tasks from your start-up list. In short, some of them are easy to get rid of and some are extremely difficult.

7. I think I may need help deleting these programs. What do I do?
We can help you find and remove them. You can do the work yourself, or you can hire
SimpliTek to do it for you - the main benefit of hiring us is that we know what to look for and how to delete them. We may be able to find spyware that you can't find, and may be able to delete some programs that you can't delete. But it's not rocket science - if you want to badly enough, you can learn how to identify and remove these pests.

If you would like to view a website dedicated to the exposure and eradication of spyware, click here.

It's too bad that we have to spend any time thinking about and worrying about unauthorized software on our computers, but unfortunately that's the world we live in.

SimpliTek Corporation
10005 Muirlands, Suite E
Irvine, CA 92618





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