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Condoms for Your PC - Use an Anti-Spyware Program

WHAT IS SPYWARE - It is a relative of the virus. In non-technical terms, spyware is a program that will collect data from your PC. It may be merely to identify what programs you have on your PC, it may be to track the web sites that you visit, it may be to inventory the things that you buy online, or it may be to capture keystrokes in order to determine account names and passwords. While it is possible that you will never experience spyware (and you may never experience a virus), as with a virus, there is no spyware that you want to have. HOW CAN THEY GET ONTO MY PC - If you use your PC long enough, you are likely to encounter spyware. For the most part, it is distributed through web pages and through installation of other programs to which they have made themselves a part.

Since almost all of us go to a web page or download and install a program at some time, it is likely that eventually you will encounter spyware in your ventures. The growth of the spyware category has been explosive. Perhaps it is because there is money to be made by collecting and selling information about people, there is money to be made from identity theft, and there is money to be made by identifying purchase patterns from Internet sales. The operative term here is "there is money to be made." HOW DO WE AVOID IT - Beyond the obvious advice of "be careful about what you download and install," consider the approach of "don't try a program from someone you don't know and, certainly, don't install a program that you have not scanned with anti-virus and anti-spyware software.

" The professional answer is to get and utilize a commercial Anti-Spyware program. There are old standby programs such as Ad-Aware, Spybot Search and Destroy, and X-Cleaner. There are newer ones from Symantec, Grisoft, and Microsoft - with a whole new suite of anti-virus, anti-spyware, and firewall products being merged. IF IT ISN'T UP-TO-DATE, IT ISN'T SAFE - This is like the Anti-Virus situation. Consider this scenario: Monday you buy an Anti-Spyware program, which protects against spyware A, B, and C. On Tuesday, someone creates spyware D. On Wednesday, your Anti-Spyware company hears about the spyware D and starts to work on a remedy. On Thursday, your Anti-Spyware company issues a patch to address spyware D. On Friday, you get the patch to address spyware D. If you install the patch to address spyware D on Saturday and the spyware D comes to you on Sunday, you are protected.

If the spyware D comes to you on Sunday and you did not install the patch, you get the spyware. Thus, it is vital to keep your Anti-Spyware product up-to-date in order to keep your PC safe. IF IT ISN'T RUN, IT ISN'T SAFE - As with the updates to the Anti-Spyware software, you also need to run the Anti-Spyware software on some regular basis in order to have it check for spyware. "If I just ran it yesterday, what's the hurry to run it again?" you may ask. The answer is related to the patches. Those patches may now repair a problem that was missed in previous scans. I run updates and scans on a daily basis. You may wish to do less than that, but you should run an update and a scan at least on a weekly basis. It is better to be safe than sorry. HOW TO RUN - Most free versions of Anti-Spyware products do NOT offer a scheduler which would make it easy for you to set an update and scan.

However, you can create batch jobs and schedule them. Try to run the processes during the day so that you can see the results and address any problems, which are identified. Unfortunately, no one Anti-Spyware product can catch all the spyware all the time. For that reason, you should have and use more than one Anti-Spyware product. You may wish to run one on Monday, Wednesday & Friday and another on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday & Sunday or you may wish to run several each day. Whatever you do, it is better to have some Anti-Spyware product at work for you to help to keep your PC safe. This article contains suggestions for the use of utility programs under the Windows operating system. They are based on years of use, but they may not be the right suggestions for you and your PC environment. Before you follow any technical suggestion, be sure that you have a current (and tested) backup of all system and data files and that you can restore the system if necessary. You are welcome to contact me if you encounter a problem, but I assume no responsibility for your actions and/or use of the information provided and disclaim any legal responsibility for any negative results of such actions.

Copyright 2006 by Tim Flynt. All rights reserved. Tim Flynt has spent over 25 years dedicated to efficient application and utility systems. Experienced in higher education, entertainment, and software development organizations. Current interest in "PC Maintenance Management." http://AcceleratedOffice.com .


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