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© Rick Lohmeyer, 2011  301-404-2630
How to Protect Yourself from Spyware
Hacking A hacker is someone who breaks into a computer; hacking is a federal crime. What is hacking? Taking control of a computer with a botnet Installing a keylogger to record information Stealing passwords and financial info Using your computer to send spam Gaining unauthorized use of a computer Using your web or email service for their gain Using a wireless network for illegal purposes Breaking into a computer database to steal data, for example credit card information
Online Fraud
The clues that spyware is on a computer: Barrage of pop-ups in your internet browser, or a “STOP” warning about a virus or other malware Hijacked browser — a browser that takes you to sites you did not type into the address box A sudden or repeated change in your computer's internet home page New and unexpected toolbars New and unexpected icons on the system tray at the bottom of your computer screen or on your desktop Keys that don't work (for example, the "Tab" key that might not work when you try to move to the next field in a Web form) Random error messages Sluggish or downright slow performance when opening programs or saving files What you or your computer consultant can do: If you think your computer might have spyware on it, immediately stop shopping, banking, or doing any other online activity that involves user names, passwords, or other sensitive information.  Don’t take risks until you have fixed the problem! Update your operating system and Web browser software. Your operating system (like Windows or Apple OSX) may offer free software "patches" to close holes in the system that spyware could exploit. Set your operating system and security software to update automatically to be sure you have the latest protections. Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them all regularly. You can download this software from ISPs or software companies or buy it in retail stores. Look for anti-virus and anti-spyware software that removes or quarantines viruses and that updates automatically on a daily basis. Download free software only from sites you know and trust. It can be appealing to download free games, file-sharing programs, or customized toolbars. Be aware, however, that some of these free software applications bundle other software, including spyware. If you share a computer with kids, talk with them about safe computing. Don't install any software without knowing exactly what it is. Take the time to read the end-user license agreement (EULA) before downloading any software. If the EULA is hard to find — or difficult to understand — think twice about installing the software. Minimize "drive-by" downloads. Make sure your browser security setting is high enough to detect unauthorized downloads, for example, at least the "Medium" setting for Internet Explorer. Don't click on any links within pop-ups. If you do, you may install spyware on your computer. Instead, close pop-up windows by clicking on the "X" icon in the title bar. Don't click on links in spam or pop-ups that claim to offer anti-spyware software. Some software offered in spam or pop-ups actually installs spyware. In fact, ads that claim to have scanned your computer and detected malware are a tactic scammers have used to spread malware, so resist the urge to respond to or click on those messages. Install a personal firewall to stop uninvited users from accessing your computer. A firewall blocks unauthorized access to your computer and will alert you if spyware already on your computer is sending information out. Back up your data.  Whether it's text files or photos that are important to you, back up any data that you'd want to keep in case of a computer crash. Do this as regularly as you update your security software. Confirm that your security software is active and current and run it to scan your computer for viruses and spyware, deleting anything the program identifies as a problem.
Online Fraud
Internet Safety
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