I Spy with My Little Eye

Have you ever wondered how those pop ups that you absolutely hate got there in the first place and why every time you go onto the net you immediately get transported to a page that you didn’t ask for or how your telephone bill has suddenly gone sky high? Well the answer is simple it’s because of things like Spyware and Adware; this article will hopefully answer your questions.

Adware or ADvertised supported softWARE are programs included with other programs that you download willingly off the Internet (all those freebie tools and programs); these have been produced by semi professional programmers and distributed by online distribution companies. As the programs are free the company distributing them have to make money some how, so they attach a little adware program to the download that produces banner ads or pop ups every time you go on the net, There are several large media companies that ask them to place banner ads in their products in exchange for a portion of the revenue from banner sales (this is perfectly legitimate and is normally made clear in the licence agreement, (the one you click through and don’t read…) however not all pop ups are caused this way and some can be through using particular websites. Not to be confused with legitimate websites offering you additional products or services, these unwanted pop ups can be caused by downloading and installing whilst you are on the net and usually without you knowing.

Now, Spyware is a completely different kettle of fish, spyware as the name suggests peeks into your computer to gather information. Distributed in a similar way as adware its purpose is to report back to HQ with information on your surfing habits, action carried out while browsing, pages visited, programs installed on your computer, etc the company might state that it’s for market research, but you can never be sure and as the program has the capability of capturing this information it makes users extremely uneasy regarding their privacy.

The latest problem with intrusion is “The Dialler” or “Rogue Dialler” this can be strongly linked to websites with an adult theme but not always necessarily and could cost you hundreds of pounds in phone calls. When you visit one of these websites you are asked if you would like to access a member’s area if you agree a dialler program will be downloaded and installed. This dialler program will then dial out on your phone on a premium rate number (anything from £1.50 – £15.00 per min) in order for you to gain direct access to their website.

The answer to this is simple don’t download it, don’t install it, if you need to download these types of programs read the licence agreement or terms and conditions first and see if it includes some kind of advertising clause or data capturing facility and if so, don’t install it or in the case of diallers just don’t install at all. Some serious spyware can be used to capture your sensitive information and as such many anti virus programs now protect against spyware, adware and dialler programs. For more information on internet use and security contact RLS Computer Services on 01553 776937.

By Rob Lucas

RLS Computer Services

More information can be found on the BBC News website

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