Prevent Spyware – Slow Down A Little

Posted on Oct 3, 2012 in Security, Small Business, Troubleshooting

SpywareSpyware and Viruses are becoming a larger and larger problem as the year goes by.  The only research I’ve done into that fact is the number of instances that I’m seeing pop up on my clients’ computers.  It’s moving from a “Common Home PC / Occasional Work PC Issue” to a “Common Everyone Issue”.    Now I’m forced to answer the hard question; how did this get through my Antivirus?  Everyone knows that you have to have Antivirus Software.  It keeps your PC running smooth when all the little hackers of the world release their terrors into the interwebs.  So why are things getting through?  The easy answer is that you’re letting them in.

How AV Works
Antivirus Applications work on the assumption that viruses and spyware are trying to sneak into your computer without you knowing.  It acts as a shield against thousands of malicious connections and installations every day.  If it’s doing its job properly then you will rarely need to even know it’s there.  But your Antivirus’s assumption is flawed in at least one respect, unless the virus is particularly nasty or very well known, your Antivirus will not stop you from knowingly installing a virus or spyware on your own computer.   If you let it in then the Antivirus Application can only do so much to protect you.

How Did I Let It In?
There are a couple of things that users (even knowledgeable users) will do without thinking that will either invite spyware and viruses in directly or will punch holes in the shield that your Antivirus tries to build around your system.  The biggest thing that we’re doing is going to fast and not paying attention to what we’re clicking on.  This is only partially your fault.  Big name, trusted, vendors (Adobe, Symantec, and even Microsoft) will sell space in their installation packages to allow smaller vendors to include their software, usually toolbars, in the setup process.  Generally this is optional software, but we’ve been conditioned to just click next, next, next, next, install, finish that we don’t really pay attention to what we’re clicking past.  Smaller software vendors will sell out for even less money and include even worse software in their installation packages.  You can’t really blame them, it’s an easy revenue stream for a small business, and they are making it optional.

Slow Down Uncheck Ask Toolbar


Uncheck the Toolbars

Slow Down A Little
We are just in too big of a rush to notice what’s checked on each screen that we’re clicking through.  Those toolbars are the beginning of spyware.  Just like they paid to be included in the software you installed, someone else as paid the toolbar vendors to push traffic a certain way.  This might lead to your browser going somewhere you didn’t intend, this might lead to ports being opened in firewalls, or it could even lead to software being installed that you didn’t have a chance to agree to during an automatic update of the toolbar itself.  We have to learn to take our time when installing new programs.  You don’t have to read every page with a magnifying glass and a lawyer present, but it wouldn’t kill you to spend 4 or 5 seconds giving each screen a cursory glance.

Care to chime in?  Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

Dennis Edmondson Jr
Computing Concepts LLC

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