Lavasoft News - July 2007

Real Solutions for Battling Spyware

You know the signs: sluggish computer performance, a barrage of pop-ups, altered homepage and security settings, and even theft of private information. You've got spyware. But how did it happen?

The fact is that computer users play a crucial role in their own security. Exercising caution and being aware of the dangers that lurk on the Internet are key in ensuring that users can safely navigate ever-increasing online threats.

Many exploits count on user error or curiosity; they use bait like eye-catching titles and links to draw in unsuspecting users. These attacks succeed only because people are unaware of the threat, or do not perceive it as a real danger to their security.

Belgian IT security professional Dider Stevens recently performed a "social experiment" where he ran an ad offering users the chance to infect their computers with malware, and more than 400 people clicked on the link.

While the site in the malware experiment contained no malware, similar methods are used by hackers to tempt users into visiting sites containing viruses and malware in order to infect PCs.

While malware trends continue to evolve, the rapid growth rate remains a constant.

Knowing how to steer clear of threats is essential in keeping your computer secure. What can you do to keep spyware and malware from your PC? To start with, follow the tips below.

  • Install updates to your operating system and other applications as soon as they become available. This is the first step in malware prevention, as many of the nastiest take advantage of new exploits and if not patched through the updates, you are vulnerable! Remember, if you are a Microsoft user, updates are usually issued on what is referred to as "Patch Tuesday," the second Tuesday of each month.
  • Do not open e-mail attachments or click on links in instant messages from ANYONE, including 'buddies', unless you expect it. Verify the attachment before opening and scan with updated anti-virus software first. Be especially leery of odd subject lines and suspicious links.
  • Change passwords on a regular basis. Use complex passwords of at least 10 characters, comprised of letters, symbols and numbers. Do not have your browser store passwords and log-in credentials.
  • Pay special attention to what you download and read End User License Agreements. Malware often 'piggybacks' on other 'freebies' promising ringtones, smilicons, and screensavers. If in doubt, ask the security volunteers in forums like the Lavasoft Support Forum for their opinions about how to download software safely.
  • Be aware of shared computers. Do not loan your computer or laptop to friends, but if you do, make sure they are using a 'limited access account' and not an Admin account, to limit infection in the event of an accident.
  • Make sure you have a firewall installed and run anti-virus software that is current and up-to-date. Make sure updates are set to automatic and checked daily or several times per day.
  • Run Ad-Aware 2007 Plus or Pro to prevent spyware and malware from infecting your computer in the first place, with real-time monitoring. Ad-Aware 2007 Free is an excellent product (for personal use only) on computers that are already infected and need to remove spyware and other adware pests.

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Ad-Aware 2007 - Now Available
Stats
By the end of 2008, there will be more than one billion personal computers in use worldwide. Forrester Research Inc. predicts that the number of PCs in use will more than double by 2015. It took 27 years to reach the billion-PC mark, but it will take only five years to reach the next billion, due to advanced technology, lower prices, and emerging technology-aware populations.

Source: Forrester's "Worldwide PC Adoption Forecast to 2015"
EULA
Term of the Month
An End User License Agreement, or EULA, is a software license agreement that indicates the terms for an end user to utilize certain software. That fine-print legal jargon that makes you want to check the box next to, "Yes, I have read and accept these terms," without fully reading the text, is an official agreement between you and a software vendor.
Tech Tips
It is important to read all EULAs and privacy statements carefully before installing new software. If the EULA is hard to find or difficult to understand, reconsider installing the software. You should never install software without knowing exactly what it is. By not fully reading the EULA, you may agree to questionable activities by the software vendor, and even to installing spyware and adware on your computer. The Zlob/Smitfraud Trojan (fake codecs most notably) actually DOES include proper disclosure of what will be downloaded to your PC. Take the time to read EULAs carefully!
Helpful Homepage
WiredSafety.org is the world's largest online safety, education and help group. Adults can visit the site for information on safely navigating the World Wide Web, and there are also specialty directories designed for kids. While it originally formed to help and protect Internet users of all ages, Wiredsafety.org's work has become increasingly dedicated to children, tweens, and teens.
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