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Thread: The Spyware / Adware Guide

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2003


    What is Spyware?
    A general term for a computer program that gathers data and reports the findings back to an advertiser or internet marketing firm. Spyware is a way for freeware software authors to make money from the software, rather than selling it to the users for a fee.

    Spyware is often bundled with file sharing applications for the past 3 years and continue to be included in most freeware p2p applications. However there is a growing list of file sharing companies who boast no Spyware in their software.

    How does Spyware make its way to my computer?
    1. Spyware programs can be secretly installed when installing freeware programs. Freeware programs are computer programs that cost nothing to use, but earn revenue bundling Spyware into programs. Almost like a commercial for TV.
    2. When installing a computer program on your computer, it is important to pay attention to the options presented when installing. Many times people click “Next, Next, Next” and bypass additional software includes, one of the ways Spyware finds a home on your computer.
    3. Websites can run scripts that install browser Spyware or cookies to track web statistics.

    What is Adware?
    Software that collects data and delivers targeted advertising to the end user. The most common found Adware delivers pop up advertising to users of a computer. Have you ever been on your computer and suddenly a message pop ups on to your screen? If so, you most likely have some form of Adware installed on your computer.

    Browser Hijackers
    Aside from downloading and installing programs at your volition, the Web is filled with all different sorts of booby traps for you fall into. For example have you ever typed in a URL that didn’t exist, and instead of getting the classic 404 message that the server was not found, you were redirected to a search page that you never intended to come across. Well, you have just been hijacked.

    What’s known as a “Browser Hijacker” modifies the settings in your web browser, to either change your homepage to that company’s homepage, or a different search page that would most likely bypass the search itself, and redirect you to a paysite. There is nothing justifiable in using this method. How dare they mess with your computer settings without your consent? That’s why it’s called hijacking. iGetNet, ILookUp, and LoadFonts are three known browser hijackers.

    Online Testing

    An absolute crime!!! You sometimes find these sitting on your desktop after you close your web browser. Curious to find out what it may be, you open up the program and it makes an attempt to dial your modem. It’s usually either an expensive 1-900 number or an international call with which you’ll be paying through the nose. After you delete this travesty of a program from your desktop, much to your dismay, you find that the dialer was planted in several locations on your hard drive. What a dirty trick! Among the dials are names like BillByCall, DialerFactory, and HotActionDating.

    These can just simply be defined as programs that you did not ask for, and when executed, does things that you would just never want done to your computer. Here are some excerpts taken from that go into detailed description of the atrocities performed by Malware:

    First reported as suspicious, it became clear soon that it will pass the ZoneAlarm firewall without user consent. When it tries to connect to the Internet and ZoneAlarm displays its dialog whether the program should be allowed to connect or not, ClientMan will auto-click the 'Yes' button after checking the 'Always' checkbox. This way, it grants itself Internet Access without the user even noticing more than a short flash of the ZA dialog.

    • Stays resident in background
    • Stealth: hides itself from user
    • Makes changes to browser settings
    • Connects to the internet by itself

    Spyware / Adware Removal
    Using a program called Ad-aware, you can delete most of the commonly used Spyware programs from your computer.

    What is Ad-aware?
    Ad-Aware is a tool that scans your computers memory, registry, hard, removable and optical drives for known data-mining, aggressive advertising, and tracking components also known as Spyware / Adware. Ad-Aware also offers a paid version of the software that tracks in real time your computers Spyware activity.

    1. Download Ad-Aware (free). Click here to download Ad-Aware , then click open or "Run from current location".
    2. Once the download is complete, this window will show up. Click next until you see the picture in the next step.
    3. At this screen, click finish to complete the installation.
    4. Double click the Ad-aware 6.0 shortcut icon on your desktop. This will open Ad-aware and you can start find those annoying programs.
    5. You will now see this window. Click start
    6. Click next
    7. You should see Ad-Aware scanning your computer for Spyware. Turn your speakers up for the next step! The scan will take about 1-10 minutes.
    8. If you had your speakers turned on you probably heard a buzz sound, that sound indicates your computer has Spyware. A little icon will now flash when the scan is complete. Click next
    9. The next screen should display a list of know Spyware programs on your computer. Right click on the list and choose “select all objects”. Verify all the items have checkmarks and click next.
    10. This will confirm you want to remove all this resource-wasting, privacy-invading Spyware. Click OK
    11. You should now see a screen that shows Ad-aware is deleting all the objects from your computer.
    12. Once you have completed all the steps, and your system is clean of Spyware, restart your computer for the changes on your system to take effect.

    Original Created by Jorge @

    Only post comments related to this guide, other replies will be removed.
    Last edited by {I}{K}{E}; 01-24-2005 at 12:42 PM.

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  3. Guides and Tutorials   -   #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    1.) Download the following freeware (free) programs.

    Spybot-S&D - Search & Destroy
    LavaSoft Ad-aware

    These will help you clean out any possible spyware or adware that could be causing your browser / windows problems.

    2.) Next download these as well

    SpywareBlaster -- by Java Cool Software
    SpywareGuard -- by Java Cool Software

    These programs do something that windows should. They prevent many spyware & adware programs, from even being installed or reinstalled.

    3.) Update & run all the above
    4.) If the first three programs found spyware / adware, reboot after cleaning, then rescan
    5.) Once everything has been done & cleaned, reboot. Even if you've done so already.

    6.) If you're not using some kind of anti-virus scan, you really should & you'd be glad to know, there are some free onces out there.

    Avast 4Home
    Anti Vir
    EZ Trust

    These are all freeware (free), so they should protect you now. Should you be willing to pay for one, I'd recommend; Kaspersky Anti-Virus

    You should now update & fully scan for any possible viruses. Should you find any, rescan once more to be sure it was cleaned.

    From this point, had it been your normal adware, spyware, or virus; your copy of explorer should be fixed & your computer cleaned.
    However, should you still be having problems there are still some more tips to try.

    1.) HiJackThis -- This program will show you a full detail of all plug-in or active settings that could have been added into your copy of explorer or within your computer. Be VERY careful of removing anything you find here. Your best bet, is to save the log & have someone else view it a few times.

    2.) Uninstall any 3rd party programs that may have added to explorer or else where in your computer. Be sure to avoid the 3rd party programs if uninstalling it, cures your problem.
    3.) Double check to see what maybe loading with windows: Start > Run > msconfig (only un-check something here, if you're 100% sure).

    If all the above has failed, it maybe time to backup all your data & do a system restore, to a point before you had this problem.

    special thanks to firefox 2.0, you should use something other than IE and you want have such a problem IMO

    Original Created by muchspl2 @

  4. Guides and Tutorials   -   #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003


    Fact #1: Spyware and Adware are fundamentally different-This is important and often made confusing by the media and privacy advocates. Many people have the common misconception that spy software is made by advertisers to profile their shopping and surfing habits. This is a false and potentially dangerous assumption.

    This misconception probably stems from the fall of two companies- Radiate and Conducent. Both of these companies attempted to sell banner space inside of freeware applications and to share this revenue with software authors in exchange for letting them distribute and selling space inside the freeware. This seemed to be a fair deal but what they didn’t disclose to software authors and didn’t tell consumers is that they were secretly profiling and logging surfing habits and sending this information back to their servers for analysis.

    Conducent and Radiate are no longer functioning, or at least they don't seem to be, but they left the legacy of adware paranoia with them. Adware may have spyware-like features, it may profile shopping habits, it is usually annoying, has the potential to be a security threat but it is nowhere near the security threat that real spyware can be. In short most Adware is not trying to capture your secret chats, e-mails or passwords. It usually is trying to entice you to buy something by showing ads, throwing out pop-up windows, profiling your surfing habits or gathering broad and general information about you.

    Fact #2: Spy software creates dangerous security holes- The latest “rage” among spyware vendors is the ability to let the spy remotely connect to the target’s computers. Right now we have identified several spyware programs opening a default port on the system and using a hard-coded or default, easy to guess or easy to brute force password. We have analyzed and carried out simulated attacks in this scenario. Hackers can use a simple port scanning tool to scan entire networks and easily penetrate affected machines.

    People who have certain remote spyware programs installed on their machines are literally sitting ducks. Ironically, in the case of shared-machine spousal spying, the spy has actually opened themselves up to severe security threats because they operate on the same machine as the victim. The very same spyware that was supposed to protect their children by monitoring their activity is now leaving them vulnerable to outside attacks.

    Fact #3: Spyware is often illegal- The use of Spyware or key recorders is illegal in some countries. If you are thinking about spying on people’s computers then think again. It may carry stiff legal penalties, up to and including prison time. In the U.S. installing a keylogger or spyware on someone's machine without their permission carries severe legal penalties.

    Unfortunately there are virtually no laws currently restricting an employer from monitoring of computers in the workplace for citizens of the United States. The good news is there is pending legislation to tighten these rules focusing on requiring notification of employees if their computer activity is being monitored. As of today this disclosure is not required.

    Recently The Utah state legislature has passed a bill, Utah Spyware Control Act, outlawing certain activities in which most spyware engages. This includes, without first seeking permission from the owner of the computer, reporting online behavior, sending information about a user to third parties and creating pop-up advertisements based on the context of a web site a person is visiting. Currently this bill is being challenged by WhenU, a large adware vendor, on the grounds of limiting free speech.

    Fact #4: Spyware is common- We know what you might be thinking; spy software seems rather “James Bondish” and beyond the reach of average users. This is not so. It is now mass-marketed, cheap and very easy to acquire. You can find spyware for sale through Internet auctions, via e-mails (often spam), and all over the Web. You can even get spyware for free if you know where to look.

    Fact #5: Spyware is easy to install- There are no special technical skills needed to install these programs. A teenager can do it and according to reports received by ourselves and other anti-spyware vendors they sometimes do. Spy software companies have made it very easy for just about anyone to start spying. We have documented cases of children installing spyware on their parent's machines to circumvent parental control software.

    Fact #6: Spyware may be sold under legitimate pretenses- Many spy programs are marketed as “child monitoring systems” when in fact they are bought by employers, spouses, and other individuals for the sole purpose of gathering system and personal information without a user’s consent. Because of this "legitimacy" these programs are often missed by anti-virus software designed to target viruses and trojan horses. Let’s be realistic, spy software makers know exactly why people are really buying these programs.

    We believe parents have a right to monitor there children but if a system is monitored it should be made clear this software is in place and the software should give the user adequate warning while it is in operation. The same holds true for employers and employees.

    Fact #7: Spies intentionally ‘misuse’ monitoring software- Established spy software companies usually ask purchasers to agree through a EULA (End User License Agreement) not to monitor users without their knowledge and consent. You guessed it- most spies have absolutely no intention of letting users know they are under surveillance.

    Fact #8: Spyware software can be detected- Spy software makers will go to great lengths to convince users they are ‘untraceable’ or they cannot be sniffed out by counter-surveillance probes. While spy ware makers often use very sophisticated counter-detection and stealth technologies the vast majority of them can be scanned against and removed. If it is being sold on the commercial market- it can be targeted.

    Fact #9: Some commercial spy programs are repurposed ‘Trojan horses’- This is sad but shockingly true. Some spyware vendors have went as far as to repurpose old Trojan horse programs found on technical minded boards and are selling them as new spy technology. (A Trojan horse is a malicious, security-breaking program disguised as something benign.)

    Fact#10: Deleting history and computer use logs does nothing against true spyware- While erasing usage history is useful to protect your privacy this type of protection is useless if your activity is being logged or snapshots are being taken of your computer use. Deleting history, files, cache and cookies cannot and will not protect you against the prying eyes of active spies on your machine.

    The safest way to remain free from spyware is to use one or more anti-spy programs that actively scan your system for intrusion and utilities that help inoculate your system from penetration. Good anti-spy programs will use a variety of methods for detection including registry scanning, md5 signatures, digital fingerprints, filesize, CLSID, windows titles and other traces that spyware leaves on your machine.

    Even with anti-spy software programs active do not develop a false sense of security. The battle to contain these programs rages on daily basis with some rogue programs creating over two-hundrend variants in a single day! One lapse in security can lead to unwanted infection so above all- use common sense. Don't download files from sites you don't know or trust, don't use P2P file sharing software, do not open e-mail attachments and be sure you have good anti-virus and firewall software running at all times.

  5. Guides and Tutorials   -   #4
    thax for letting me now

  6. Guides and Tutorials   -   #5
    wow!! that was crazy! but helpful indeed!!

  7. Guides and Tutorials   -   #6
    thx a lot
    only have used ad-adware and spybot.
    will ge it a chance with the recommended.

    thx very much

  8. Guides and Tutorials   -   #7
    I think if your willing to dish out some money, webroot spysweeper I think the best for the money, to bad I'm broke...

  9. Guides and Tutorials   -   #8
    Ive looked into this and found kasperskys not all that great (shrugs)

    My mate has the pro version but he had a nasty on his computer which I found using "A squared" (nice freebie drive scanner). And they did some reviews in a magazine and by throwing known viruses etc at the computer and Kaspersky didnt fair too well!

    I personally use Avast and Zonealarm. Whilst running Spybot, Adaware and A squared every now and then.

    I also protect myself with the IP Blocker Peer Guardian (Fantastic program)
    <img src= border=0 alt= />

  10. Guides and Tutorials   -   #9
    biotitan's Avatar eS/Cee^StyLeZ =]~
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Sri Lanka
    Yep I've used both Kaspersky and Norton.... They both Suck!!! but BitComet IS v10 worked for me (It detected most..... though I had to delete some of them manually.); Give it a try!!!

  11. Guides and Tutorials   -   #10
    Nice info. i use spybot + NOD32 + Sygate firewall to minimize infiltration.

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