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Spyware

By pctech ·
One may ask why I would start this discussion about spyware under the Security topic. Simple, I see spyware as a possible security threat. If not now, certainly in the very near future.
The term "spyware" is becoming more and more ambiguous. At it's conception, spyware was nothing more than a cookie placed on your computer to collect rather benign information about your system and your preferences on how a page was displayed when you visited a website. This is no longer the case. The only true distinction between viruses and some spyware is that the spyware does not conatin a "harmful" payload that could damage your system. Once spyware does carry a harmful payload it is then reclassified as a virus or a worm. Even this distinction is becoming muddied because spyware can have a direct effect on system performance and your ability to use your computer reliably.
So, as techs, what do we do about it? We are not limited in what we can do to rid systems of spyware. One at a time. We can do this by using the very valuable, and very free tools we can download off the intenet. As good as these applications are, they are not the definitive answer to the problems of spyware. This process is simply too slow and is more and more an ineffective method, for too many systems remain infected. Using this tactic, spyware wins. Hands down. We, as techs, must also be information sources to end users and let them know of the problems spyware creates and how to keep their systems clean. Our chances improve with this method but, too few voices to be heard by too many ears. Some lack the skills to use the tools we can help them obtain. We must teach the use of these tools as well. All for free for any true impacts to be realized in the war against spyware. I do not imply that the initial service of "cleaning" their systems should not be without a charge but, teaching them how to avoid future infections and cleaning of their own systems in the future should be a free service we provide to them. We need to inform users that some of the "tools" available to them also are spyware within themselves. Trickery is a standard practice for spyware programmers.
We can have better success as consumers. We, as consumers, need to let these advertisers know that their products will NOT be used from any company that employs the use of spyware to sell their products. A larger and more effective voice that advertisers will have to pay heed to. For this to have an impact, consumers must be resolved to stand firm in their commitment to avoid buying products sold by these companies. This method of fighting the war on spyware will have a better chance of succeeding.
What about as members of society? What can society itself do to combat the onslaught of spyware? This will take legislation. Strong, very effective legislation. Society will need to decide what is just treatment for those that invade and take over our computers. I have my own proposals but, I can not speak for society.

Mike Rankin

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Ideas to help

by justinr In reply to Free Tools

I am a Resident Tech at a Staples in Canada and I have been running into this issue more and more over the last year. Viruses are no longer the reason people bring computers in for repair; it is Spyware/Adware. Mainly people deal with them but when hijackers take over their web surfing and programs start to damage DNS resolution; they are unable to continue working with their PCs. Up until recently we have only been able to remove the spyware and not protect against it. Lavasoft has their Pro version but this isnt something that I can effectivly market to the customer. Customers are bringing PCs in every so often becuase they figure that once I removed the junk, it should stay off for a long time. They do not understand that what I spend hours to remove could very well be thrown back into the system in a matter of a few clicks.

I have just started marketing a bundle 'Tune-up' to the customer that includes the removal as well as prevention of spyware with the help of Mcafee's AntiSpyware. And with the release of Mcafee 9.0 (NA says they are focusing strongly on not only the removal of spyware but the PROPER removal of spyware in that release) we have more options available to us to help protect our customers. I believe that once we get these big companies behind us; it might just make it easier to at least dull the roar of spyware. (I am focusing on the Mcafee software because, as many of you most likely know, Symantec's software has taken a deep plunge off the top. Installations go bad 9 times out of ten, etc)


What do you think about these companies venture into the prevention/removal of spyware?

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Symantic

by ironsiren In reply to Ideas to help

I'm am not sure about what Mcafee has been doing but as I mentioned I think NAV 2004 Pro has done a good job of incorporating their spyware remover into there virus protection. If you enable autoprotect a popup actually comes up in the bottom corner of your screen telling you when a scan is being initialized so you can try and avoid those websites and such in the future.

I'm sure Mcafee's solution will be along the same lines as the one symantic has come up with.

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Ideas to help - Norton works

by krogelr In reply to Ideas to help

Like any of the tools it is not perfect but we have used this NA product for thousands of workstations. We do not have failure rates anywhere near yours. It is not perfect but it is not that bad either.

Ron

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Norton fail rates

by justinr In reply to Ideas to help - Norton wo ...

I am finding that I can have great success with Norton on a clean install or windows with all patches applied. But the issue is that being in the repair business, you rarely get machines that are clean installs and no customer would really want to format just to install Norton.

I would love to have total control over the machines I fix. But I cant.

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O Good, Tools not tirades

by BHunsinger In reply to Ideas to help

Great to see an answer that does not involve the answer that only mechanics should wash cars and change CDs. We have a lot of that comming into the shop now also. Three months ago, we were advising customers that NAV 03 was adequate, now we offer Norton AV 04. It may not remove them all, but it does a good job of finding them.
Also, I have a seperate issue with AdAware; it seem to ad its ownere spyware when installed-that 180 thing. Comments? I especially liked the comment about Kazaa and other programs not being free while using shareware like spybot and adaware!
Finally, whatever you use, I have discovered that running it in safemode greatly enhances the programs ability to find and remove this stuff. I now routinely set IE to delete temporary intternet files when closing and install the google toolbar to stop popups. Deleting cookies can help as well.

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Google Toolbar to stop Popups?

by Paymeister In reply to O Good, Tools not tirades

Your remark about Google's toolbar intrigues me. Once by accident I installed a toolbar (Xupiter?)that messed up my system and was a royal pain to remove.

Is Google's toolbar a good thing to have? What does it do? What is the downside to having it?

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Re Google toolbar

by BHunsinger In reply to O Good, Tools not tirades

Installs a google search window on your browser, stops popups, allows siste by site activation of popups. Also has Auto fill function that I have not used, approved by Microsoft and Norton, at least it was while Microsoft did not have a MSN toolbar

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NAV

by ironsiren In reply to Free Tools

You mentioned that antivirus programs should incorporate antispyware protection into their software. If you find a copy of Norton Antivirus 2004 Professional it actually has this option built into it. I also have a copy of Adaware Professional installed on my pc and home and found that NAV actually did find programs lavasoft didn't. I also use a registry cleaner to though, I have found that although programs like Adaware claim to search your registry a good registry cleaner always finds a few extras which helps to keep my system clean. The best part is many of these tools only take a minute to run and can either be set as scheduled task to during days while I'm at work or many have the option of running on startup. I have found the most effective way to clean the system is in safe mode though. Sometimes if these spyware bots are running adaware finds them but is unable to remove but in safe mode none are running hence a more through cleaning.

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An Enterprise solution

by a7v8x In reply to NAV

The spyware epidemic that afflicts 90% of consumer PCs presents real-world threats to corporate resources.

* Compromised security of corporate information, data and intellectual property
* Diminished workstation performance
* Increased service burden on IT staff
* Reduced employee productivity
* Increased bandwidth consumption

Anti-virus software and firewalls do not FULLY address the full spectrum and barrage of spyware attacking companies today.

I found a programme that I think does a good job - until the next release. Webroot Spy Sweeper Enterprise effectively protects, detects, quarantines and deletes all forms of spyware.

WSSE is equipped with a comprehensive set of features to effectively protect, detect, quarantine and eradicate even the most devious and malicious spyware. The centralized console makes deployment, administration and maintenance a snap.

Have a look at webroot.com

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Sounds great

by justinr In reply to An Enterprise solution

I love SAV corp because you can admin everything from one machine. If this is anything like that, I am sold.

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