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Security Solutions: Remove spyware

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In this week's Security Solutions e-newsletter column, Mike Mullins discusses spyware. Do you allow users to download and install freeware programs on your network? What steps have you taken to get spyware off your network?

Here's the links to the resources mentioned in this column:

- Ad-aware Professional
http://www.lavasoftusa.com/

- Gorilla Design Studio:
http://www.accs-net.com/hosts/
(Note: This site was unreachable when the Security Solutions e-newsletter was published.)

* Remember to remove any extra spaces from these URLs before pasting them into your browser.

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by Jellimonsta In reply to Security Solutions: Remov ...

We do not allow unauthorized freeware or shareware software on our network. We have written policies and procedures that are enforced to that effect. In fact, we are currently in the middle of a "crack down" initiative to verify compliance of these policies.

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And is it working?

by Dave Howe In reply to

We tried a similar crackdown a few years ago - and found it promoted a culture where users would strip off all "incriminating" software before reporting a fault or if there was a authorised upgrade due. I am sure you can see how all those installs and deinstalls from poorly written installers cause enough trouble on their own, without the variety of spyware and outright trojans that get re-installed the second our backs exit though the door.
Instead, we accomodate freeware and shareware as preferred solutions - not only does this save us money, but we can be sure that what IS installed is clean. We maintain a directory of acceptable freeware (and some shareware, with a notice about registration and that licence costs come from *their* departmental budget) and link to it from our intranet; there is also a mechanism where users of packages from the intranet download page can "register" their usage so they can be notified by email of any updates or security patches - which usually one or more of the regular users notify *us* about long before we notice ourselves.
All this really costs us is a little space on the intranet server and a willingness by the helpdesk to listen to "do you have a package to do $FOO" requests and recommend a free (or shareware, or sometimes commercial) package or packages.
The same site lists a page of "known bad" applications - spyware riddled, or just machine destablizing - with a clear, easy to understand paragraph detailing why that particular package is on the embargo list.
on the management side, there was considerable scepticism right up to the point we put dollar values on the "savings" from the free software; it is rare we can't find a commercial package or three to compare to the free one, and saying "we have xxx new installs this month of $FOO, potentially saving the company $xxxx in licence fees" tends to get management interest FAST.

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Spyware

by AR.FINDERS In reply to

Spyware; Privacy Act should be enforced against the Companys that invade people's computers. Thanks; Shirley Elton

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Have at 'er

by Oz_Media In reply to Security Solutions: Remov ...

I let anyone install ANYTHING to the networks I admin. I don't work directly for the company so their breaching any company policies is not my problem. That aside, if people install crap, I get called out (If I can't jump into their PC)and that means MO MONEY, MO MONEY.

If I need to remove spyware I ALWAYS use and recommend Adaware. It is truly the cats *** at catching EVERYTHING!

Yuo wanna screw up your PC and possibly destroy the network? Have at 'er. Just don't forget to call me. :-)

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agreed. mostly.

by sgt_shultz In reply to Have at 'er

I agree pretty much with OzMedia. But i would never think or say, go ahead, screw it up, make my day. I am there as net admin to serve the customer. the computers are business tools and should just to work the way the customer expects. nobody wants to be restricted out, at least at my companies. i just make sure we have excellent historical backups, good security patch procedures, educated users, and i try to leverage 'freedom' constantly, as in 'because we maintain as user-friendly network as possible, i need you to team with me for security and accept changing your (strong) passwords frequently, always log out etc etc. and they do. i find them very receptive to learning about social engineering etc, wireless issues etc. i find they give me plenty of work anyway and you can't beat the open dialog/trust relationship. they may install stuff but they pretty much ask me first or at least are prompt to 'confess' during troubleshooting. i also engage my customers as much as they like in troubleshooting process. i alwyas tell them i need their help, which i do. i never say 'NO KAZAA!!! we just talk about kazaa and how it works and recommend we don't allow it. or we set it up on a non-networked machine, like that. i try to give them what they want. i think of tight restrictions like the wind blowing on the man with the coat. he just hugs his coat tighter and resists the wind more. i'd rather be the sun, shining pleasantly down until he wants to take his coat off, see? besides, there is no security without physical security and none of my people have locked server room so throw my hands up anyway! just gotta do 'due diligence', have good backups and cultivate good will. my final comment is: the days of being able to cripple the customer into dependancy are over. they are now too sophisticated to put up with that. which is why i can compete at all in this tiny town full of good IT folks.

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Spybot S&amp

by leyther In reply to Security Solutions: Remov ...

Rather than using Ad-aware, i'd much rather use Spybot Search & Destroy (http://spybot.safer-networking.de). This will find spyware but has also got the added bonus of being able to immunize your computer against future possible spyware downloads. Plus it also has the advantage of allowing u to lock your (or someone elses) homepage and hosts file to stop any hijacking or alteration, and its free.

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Spybot

by Mike Mullins In reply to Spybot S&D

Another excellent choice!

Thanks,
Mike Mullins

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Another Spybot preferrer

by BlueMoundsHandyman In reply to Spybot S&D

I've used the freeware versions of both Spybot and Ad-Aware. While Ad-Aware has a nice interface, and Spybot's is a little clumsy, for performance, my preference is definitely Spybot. It takes off a wider range of stuff, innoculates, and also quaranteans the removed stuff so if a customer (I'm a self-employed computer tech) just has to have the freeware version of Kazaa, you can put it back on for them.

Don't forget to make donation to Spybot if you use it a lot. It's a great piece of ware.

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Spybot

by Puffx0r In reply to Spybot S&D

I much prefer this over Adaware and such; not only is it completely FREE but its definitions are updated more frequently than other software. Gogo Spybot!

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Me too! (I prefer Spybot S&D)

by Straffin In reply to Spybot S&D

LavaSoft abused their user's trust by leaving Ad-Aware 5 un-updated for months. I won't be burned like that...

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