Review On Spyware And Adware Removal Reports 90% Of Us Are Infected

The review on spyware and adware removal also showed one in three PCs are infected with the dangerous types of spyware... the type that's able to send our personal information to a third party.

According to Earthlink/Webroot and the AOL/National Cyber Security Alliance Spyware Review, 90 percent of all Internet-connected computers are infected with spyware. By scanninng 4.6 million computers, it was shown that 16 percent had a system monitor installed and 17 percent had a Trojan horse program.

So what are 'system monitors' and 'Trojan horses'? Well, by reading this review on spyware and adware removal, you'll become aware of the different types of spyware that can silently install themselves on your PC.

Moreover, you'll get a feel for which types can be just an annoyance and those which are the most malicious. Many of you will also get the message that it is critical to guard privacy and online security by protecting against spyware... ensuring your identity, personal, family or business information is safe from prying eyes.

Although there are many different types of spyware, they can be categorized into two broad classifications...

Here, we'll be focussing on surveillance or monitoring spyware. For information on adware, please take a look at Comments And Reviews On Spyware And Adware Remover... Adware.

Review On Spyware And Adware Removal... Surveillance or Monitoring Spyware

This is the more serious and malicious type of spyware.

Surveillance or monitoring spyware can,

  • scan your hard drive for all information it contains
  • search programs
  • change your browser's home page
  • scan browser history for web sites visited
  • monitor various aspects of your computer and Internet activity

And its not just the Internet where you are exposed to spyware... more and more companies are installing spyware to watch employees at work to check that the company network is not being used for personal use.

So, within this spyware review, let's have a look at the 7 most common forms of monitoring spyware...

  1. Trojan Horses
  2. Browser Hijackers
  3. Browser Helper Objects
  4. Trojan Web Pages
  5. Dialers
  6. Tracking Cookies
  7. System Monitors

1. Review On Spyware And Adware Removal...
Trojan Horses

Of all the spyware discussed in this review on spyware and adware removal, Trojans are one of the sneakiest.

They are often downloaded on the back of a free program that has some value to the user - a free game, software program or music, for instance. However, when it is opened, another program, known as the server, is set off in the background... but this one is silently causing malicious damage to the computer.

Once infected, the computer becomes accessible to any remote user or cracker that has the part of the Trojan known as the 'client'... and that person can perform any action the user can.

This means the cracker can enter the PC undetected whenever the victim goes online. They can access or destroy any information stored. This gives the cracker the ability to manage files on the computer, including creating, deleting, renaming, viewing, or transferring files to or from the computer. This could include:

  • Client or customer information or other business data
  • Credit card details
  • Passwords for access to your online bank, ISP or web services
  • Other information you would rather remain hidden
  • Email addresses, which may be used for spamming
  • Sending mass e-mails from your infected(spam zombie)computer
  • Children's personal details, such as names, e-mail and chat accounts, photographs, and ages held on the computer

Some Trojans don't even need remote intervention from the attacker and are able to do what is intended automatically, like e-mailing an address book or credit card details.

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Browser or Home Page Hijackers

A browser hijacker originates from web sites we visit and targets the security vulnerabilities within web browsers -- usually Internet Explorer. Once it installs itself, it alters the browser's behavior.

The most common type is home or start page hijacking. This spyware resets your browser's home page to one that can generate the author money -- usually one containing ads and sales links. However, you may be redirected to a new page that downloads more malware to further infect the computer.

A second type is the toolbar hijacker. Here, the spyware is an adware-based, custom toolbar, which is placed within the web browser and then displays advertisements and tracks our browsing.

Because Internet Explorer (IE) dominates the browser market and is plagued with security vulnerabilities, the majority of us are susceptible to this route of attack.

The most common method of attack is through ActiveX. ActiveX is a small program downloaded to our PCs to provide special functionality. Unfortunately, this gives the developers of these programs significant access to both our browser and our Windows system.

In response to the continuing problems with the IE browser, US CERT (US Computer Emergency Readiness Team), advised people to ditch IE and use a different browser for their computer protection.

I have taken this advice and use and recommend the free Mozilla Firefox browser.

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Helper Objects

A browser helper object (BHO) is a small program that acts as a plug-in, mostly for the IE browser.

BHO’s can allow increased functionality and/or they can display ads and monitor which websites you visit and send this information back to the developer.

For instance, Alexa uses a BHO and installs a toolbar which shows the ranking of the websites we visit. Now, this can be very useful information for some people, such as website developers. However, Alexa also records which sites we are visiting, as it uses this information to compile its website ranking scores.

On the other hand, the Google toolbar also shows the popularity of a website being visited. Unlike Alexa, there is no privacy or security risk with this toolbar.

Many BHOs don't show they are there, so, it's possible that there are BHOs installed on your system that you don't know about. It's these programs, installed surreptitiously, that are likely to be recording your surfing habits.

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Trojan Web Pages

A technique that's growing in use is the Trojan web page. Even if you have successfully deleted spyware, every time the Trojan page is accessed, your PC becomes re-infected.

An example of spyware that uses this method is CoolWebSearch (CWS). CWS can be one of the most difficult pieces of spyware to remove from our system. In fact, because the latest variants use unique techniques to hide themselves from antispyware, they are almost impossible to remove.

5. Review On Spyware And Adware Removal...
Dialers or Modem Hijacking

In this review on spyware and adware removal, dialers or modem hijackers are potentially the most costly. They are small pieces of software secretly downloaded to our PCs, such as through a virus infection, mp3 download, or adult website.

They are able to disconnect your computer from your Internet Service Provider and reconnect using a premium rate, time-charged number. These phone numbers are often for adult chat line services.

Although they do not spy on you, dialers run discreetly in the background and can cause significant 'phone charges to mount up... the perpetrator collecting a premium.

6. Review On Spyware And Adware Removal...
Tracking Cookies

Cookies are pieces of information that are generated by a website server and stored on our computers for future access. Simple cookies contain small amounts of data, such as site passwords and settings, to make our navigation of the website easier.

However, some sites now issue adware cookies that track user behavior across different websites. They provide marketers with private information about an individual's surfing habits, usernames and passwords, areas of interest, etc. These user profiles can then be sold on to other marketing organizations or spammers.

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System Monitors

System monitors have the ability to monitor all of your computer activity.

They range in capabilities and may record some or all of the following...

keystrokes, e-mails, chat room conversations, instant messages, Websites visited, programs run, time spent, and even usernames and passwords.

The information can be gathered via remote access or sent by e-mail.

The most popular system monitor in use is the keylogger. Keyloggers are invisible surveillance software programs that record every keystroke we make on our PCs. The saved information is then sent, usually automatically by email, to the third party responsible for its installation.

The information being sent -- unknown to us -- will include any sensitive information that we enter on our keyboard that could have a financial benefit to the perpetrator. Examples are...

  • User names and passwords
  • Credit card information
  • E-mails we’ve written
  • The contents of Instant Messaging (IM)
  • Our address or the addresses of those we write or email
  • Phone numbers

There are also hardware keyloggers or key catchers which plug into our PCs at the keyboard port and which record every keystroke made on our PCs.

Suspicious partners and bosses can resort to this type of surveillance software to check what you are doing on your computer... so, it does pay to occasionally check your keyboard port for any physical devices that are unfamiliar to you.

Review On Spyware And Adware Removal...
Supporting Articles

  1. Comments And Reviews On Spyware And Adware Remover... What Is Spyware & How Does It Affect Us?
  2. The Limitations Of Top Of The Line Spyware And Adware Remover Programs
  3. Comments And Reviews On Spyware And Adware Remover... Adware
  4. Review On Spyware And Adware Removal... How PCs Are Infected & The Signs
  5. Review On Spyware And Adware Removal... 5 Key Steps To Spyware Protection

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