A few ways to avoid ‘spyware’ problems

NASHUA – Surfing the Internet can be dangerous.

You have to be careful about where you go, what you do, and whom you do it with, or else you never know what you’ll catch.

Anyone who ventures online without a firewall, anti-virus program and their common sense enabled is just asking for trouble.

Spyware, viruses, “Trojan horse” programs and other such virtual thugs lurk online, waiting to mug vulnerable computers. They can hijack your browser until it won’t show anything but pop-up advertising, they can track your movements through cyberspace, use your computer to attack others, or worse, steal personal and financial data stored on your computer.

Here are some things you can do to defend yourself:

– Never click on a pop-up ad. Doing so can download spyware onto your computer. Click only on the X to close it, usually in the upper right corner.

– Install a toolbar, such those as from Yahoo! or Google, to block pop-up ads on any computer that accesses the Internet.

– Download and install Spybot Search & Destroy, Spysweeper or another such program designed to remove spyware.

– Install a software firewall, even if you use only a dialup connection, to keep hackers from burrowing into your computer and keep spyware programs from sending information from your computer.

– Never open e-mail from strangers. Just delete it. If you get an e-mail with the subject line “the pricing you requested,” for instance, and you haven’t requested any pricing on any products, why would you want to read it?

– Be cautious about what you download, and where you get it. Turn down any unsolicited offers to download anything.

– Install and use a good anti-virus program. Keep it updated, turn on the “auto protect” function, and scan your computer at least once a week. When your subscription runs out, renew it.

– Consider using a different browser. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, which comes installed on all Windows computers, has the benefit of being free and familiar. It also has many weak points for hackers to exploit.


Signs that spyware has infiltrated your computer:
Your home page has changed. Spyware often resets your home page without asking your permission.
You see hot links within documents, leading you to advertisements.
You get numerous “pop-up” ads, especially pornographic ads.
Your computer runs slower than it did.
For general information on spyware, search any of the following sites:
Free downloads:
Spybot Search & Destroy: www.spybot.info
Zone Alarm firewall: www.zonelabs.com
AVG anti-virus: www.grisoft.com
Firefox browser: www.mozilla.org/products/firefox
Other Internet security companies: