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Adware / Spyware Information
Last Updated: Thu, 03 Jun 2010 > Related Articles
This article provides information for Cox Security Suite and Adware / Spyware.
Welcome to the Cox Adware / Spyware information page. Here you will find information on what Adware and Spyware are, how they affect you, and what you can do about them. In addition, you will also find tips and tools for avoiding, detecting and removing Adware and Spyware programs.
According to the “Center for Democracy and Technology”, there are at least three general categories of applications that are sometimes described as Spyware. They are:
- Keystroke loggers and screen capture utilities, which are installed by a third party to monitor work habits, observe online behavior, or capture passwords and other information.
- “Adware” and similar applications that install themselves surreptitiously through “drive-by downloads” or by piggybacking on other applications and track user's behaviors and take advantage of their internet connection.
- Legitimate applications that have faulty or weak user-privacy protections.
There are many reasons why someone would install Adware / Spyware on your PC. The most notable include:
- Advertising of products: Companies will pay developers of Adware to devise ways of showing their products to you. Some may be as simple as a pop-up ad that you see when you go to a particular website. More ingenious methods will install a small software program on your PC that can be continuously updated by these developers when new products are available.
- Track your web-surfing habits for Marketing of new products: Developers will create small programs that “track” your web-surfing habits, which are then categorized for companies to create “targeted” marketing campaigns.
- Identity theft: This form is, by far, the most malicious use of Spyware. Developers will create programs that capture personal information that they can use to obtain bank accounts, credit cards, and so on. Many of today's most popular Spyware applications promise the ability to execute via “remote installation”. Remote installation is the ability to put a Spyware program on a computer without having physical access to the machine
The War on Adware / Spyware
Cox now provides a suite of tools which includes an anti-spyware utility FREE with your Cox High Speed Internet Service. This application also stops "pop-up" and "pop-under" ads while you surf the Internet. Visit the Cox High Speed Internet Internet Tools area to download and activate your copy of Cox Security Suite.
Symptoms of Adware / Spyware
The best method for identifying if your PC has been infested with spyware is with the use of software designed for that purpose. However, since many of these applications communicate with other computers and are programs themselves, they use system resources which include memory, CPU cycles and an Internet connection. Therefore, the following are some symptoms you might notice as a result:
- Slow Computer: Although there are many reasons why your computer may run slow, if you use your computer daily then you are familiar with how it behaves. Older computers and some applications can cause a computer to run slow; however, if suddenly it begins to run much slower, this could be a sign of Adware / Spyware.
- Unknown E-mail Activity: If you start noticing email sent without your knowledge or you start receiving a large number of bounced emails that you did not send, then you may have been infected. There are some types of programs that can send out spam from your computer using your address book or simply return the email addresses in your address book to a spammer to be used for unsolicited email.
- Odd Computer Behavior: You may notice strange activity suddenly with your computer such as hard drive activity when you are not doing anything, an unknown icon in your Windows system tray, changed settings, CD drives opening and shutting, or programs mysteriously opening and closing. These could be a sign of a spyware program running on your PC.
Detecting Adware / Spyware
Detecting Adware / Spyware on your computer depends upon the program itself. The legitimate programs can usually be found more easily than the more malicious programs which are also harder to remove. To begin with, you can check your Windows Programs list or the Windows Start-Up folder. To check your Windows Programs list, go to Start/Settings/Control Panel and check under Add/Remove Programs. To check your Windows Start-Up folder, go to C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu to check for any unknown programs. If you are uncertain if a program is considered Adware / Spyware, you can always check the program against spyware databases which can be found by searching the Internet.
Removing Adware / Spyware
If you believe you are infected with Adware / Spyware, the easiest way to detect and remove it is by the use of anti-spyware software or scanning software. Anti-spyware software is a different tool from anti-virus software but operates in much the same way, by scanning the hard drive looking for files associated with known Adware / Spyware programs. The software then returns any found programs and allows the user to determine what course of action to take. Cox now provides a suite of tools which includes anti-spyware FREE with your Cox High Speed Internet Service. This application will detect possible Adware / Spyware on your computer and allow you to remove them. Visit the Cox High Speed Internet Internet Tools area to download and activate your copy.
Keeping Clean from Adware / Spyware
- Be cautious of downloads. The easiest way is to not install them in the first place. Many of these applications are installed via "drive-by downloads", which use misleading tactics to install them. Many times users have no idea they have installed the application. Many developers will design their applications to be difficult to uninstall. If a small portion remains on your PC, it has the ability to rebuild itself, so be careful what you download. B e sure to read any privacy policies offered by the site and only install applications when you are certain what functions they are performing and AFTER you read the End User Licensing Agreement (EULA).
- Be suspicious of pop-up ads. Do not download programs via pop-up ads or from unknown sites. Also, be sure to close any window that looks suspicious and be sure to close windows properly by clicking the "X". Some pop-up ads will contain a close box or "X" within the window that instead of closing actually opens the ad. To be safe, you can always close the window from your Windows taskbar by right clicking on the window located on your taskbar (generally found at the bottom of your screen) and clicking Close.
- Stay updated. Simply keeping up with the latest security patches, fixes, and service packs will help prevent some of the pests from getting on your computer.
- Scan regularly. Frequent scans using your anti-spyware tool will also keep you safe.
Additional information on Adware / Spyware
Cox does not endorse any particular site, but you can search the Internet for spyware sites or visit sites like http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/twc/privacy/spyware.mspx or http://www.spywareguide.com/ to learn more about Adware/Spyware and utilities for removing these types of applications.