April 11, 2004
The spyware that loved me
I'll second Ginger's recommendation of this Chron article on spyware. There's some nasty stuff out there, and you probably don't know about it - if you are seeing messages popping up on your screen for no apparent reason, it's almost 100% that you're infected by something. The article's an easy read, and I can personally recommend AdAware and Spybot Search and Destroy (I downloaded my copy from Chron Helpline writer Jay Lee's site GeekRadio, as I learned about it from his column). I have them both and run them regularly, and thankfully have found very few infestations on our PC.
Not really addressed in here is the question of browser choice. I use Mozilla exclusively at home, and I've largely operated under the assumption that it's the best thing I'm doing to avoid unwanted additions to my computer. My experience seems to bear that out, but it would have been nice to see Dwight Silverman address the issue - I could still be lucky, after all. Whatever the case, though, this article is a must read for anyone who isn't sure what's on their computers.
UPDATE: Dwight Silverman comments that there is spyware which exploits Netscape/Mozilla, so merely avoiding IE is not a guarantee of safety. Thanks, Dwight!
Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 11, 2004 to Technology, science, and math
I second the use of Mozilla (or at least some other non-IE browser). With IE I picked up enough spyware that it was actually interfering with my internet connection, whereas since I switched I've gathered very little besides the pretty much unavoidable tracking cookies.
I've said it many times: Silverman rules. He's one of the few remaining reasons to read the Chronicle.
In addition to the web browser choice, people are well-advised to dump Microsoft mail applications. They cause unbelievable rates of infections and spreading of virii. Thunderbird, the standalone Mozilla.org mail client, is just as feature-rich, free and much safer.
Funny that this would hit the news just now. Last Thursday I must have accidentally hit "yes" when I meant "no," because I ended up with several parasites on my computer that immediately pulled in multiple popups, ads, and other parasites running my CPU usage up to a whopping 85%.
The worst offender was eZula, which was impossible to eliminate without the help of Ad-aware 6.0 (yeah!). I am happy to say that I am bug-free for 3 days and counting.
I *did* have fun with Greg and Ang Thursday night at dinner, just casually mentioning that I had a parasite called eZula. Both of them leaned slightly away until I explained that it was a computer related issue, not a bio hazard. ;)
Thanks -- I downloaded the Spybot Search & Destroy (not forgetting the prayer) and am very pleased. Who sez blogging is a waste of time.
Glad you liked the package; it's gotten a good reaction, lots of traffic, and apparently has been a big help to folks.
I originally had a paragraph in the story about this primarily being an issue for Windows & IE users, but it was cut for space. (However, there is spyware that targets Netscape/Mozilla users, so you're not 100% safe!)