Information about Spyware, Foistware and Adware, all under the general heading of Spyware

What is Spyware? In general, it is any program that is installed on your PC that would send information, such as your browsing or shopping habits or personal profile data, from your computer to someone else's without your clear knowledge and often, without your permission. It is often referred to as 'Adware' that tries to tailor the ads you see in web sites with your browsing habits. 'Foistware' is software running on your PC that hijacks the ad window from one web site and replaces the intended ads with its own. Undesirable behaviors associated with "Malware", include "behaves as spyware", "automatically runs on startup", "displays pop-up advertisements", "installs adware", and "bundled software cannot be closed".
Sometimes you agree to install one of these programs, and by doing so, you are agreeing to let someone else use your computer's idle processing power for their own purposes. (Have you ever heard your Hard Drive cranking away for a long time, even when you are not at your PC? Sometimes that's Windows working, sometimes it's not!
Overall, these things are perpetrated by people who take advantage of How does it get on your PC? Usually it happens when you visit a web site and you are prompted to download something in order to view or use that web site. Also, you might hear of a program that has some nice features, but besides those, it installs program code that can send information out without your knowledge.

Is it doing any other harm to the PC? A lot of these programs automatically load into memory when you start your computer, sometimes without you having selected an option to do so. If you get enough of these running, your system's performance will suffer, and there could be conflicts with other programs.

How do you know if you have any on your system? Some are obvious, because you may have gotten them in your surfing travels. You may even have a System Tray Icon that mysteriously appeared one day. These programs are hardly ever necessary and you might consider removing them.
A new type of adware that produces pop-over and pop-under ads is becoming more pervasive. These install themselves as what is called a 'BHO', or Browser Helper Object. They work with Internet Explorer and can cause a pop-up ad each time you change a web page or even use the 'Back' button. (This is a good clue you have a BHO running. Ordinarily, if a web site has pop-ups, you might get them when you go to their site or hit the 'Refresh' button, which causes the site to reload completely. But using the Back button should only go back to the last screen you were at and does not cause the web page to reload from the web site. If that were the case, you shouldn't get another pop-up. If you do, it means there is something running with the browser that gets another ad, even when using the Back button). These are hard to detect because they don't show up in memory in a list of running programs (since they run with the browser). The only way to detect them is by using a program like Spybot.
Also, if you have a Firewall program, such as Zone Labs ZoneAlarm, it will open an 'Alert' window when a program is attempting to connect out to the Internet for the first time. That is a clue that some program intends to send data out of your PC and you should be very suspicious of that.

How do you get rid of them? Some programs, like Comet Cursor or Gator can go through the standard 'Uninstall' routine under Control Panel|Add/Remove Programs. The problem with some is that 'Spyware' program code may ride along with another program's installation, and uninstalling one thing may leave the Spyware behind. Next, get Lavasoft's AD-Aware. It will scan your PC for known Spyware and then remove any it finds. Some anti-Spyware web sites will also have the names of various files that would be present on your system is Spyware is installed. Using the Windows 'Find' (or 'Search') files option, you can easily see if those files are present.

'Alleged' or known Spyware, Foistware or Adware programs (Disclaimer):
  • 180solutions
  • AllAdvantage
  • Aureate
  • BookedSpace
  • Brilliant Digital
  • Comet Cursor
  • Conducent Technologies
  • Cydoor
  • eZula
  • Flowgo
  • Gator
  • Gohip
  • Hotbar
  • Imesh
  • KaZaA (loads Cydoor)
  • Onflow
  • Radiate
  • Search-exe
  • Trickler
  • Xupiter
  • Zango
Remember, by downloading a program, you may be legally agreeing to terms that allow a program to send information out of your PC.
To research this yourself, Click here

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