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  01   What is spyware?
02   Is there a difference between adware and spyware?
03   How do I get spyware?
04   How do I prevent spyware from being installed?
05   How do spyware removal programs work?
06   Is all spyware/adware malicious?
07   Are pop-ups related to spyware?
08   What does TMT do about spyware?
What is spyware?
Spyware is the name given to programs that were created to monitor your online activities, report your activities to the spyware creators, and send you advertisements. Another name used is adware. Some spyware programs can report general information (such as what Internet browser you're using), or very specific information (like your username, passwords, banking information, etc.). Spyware programs also have varying degrees of invasiveness from simply monitoring to hijacking your Internet browser and taking you to other websites.

Is there a difference between adware and spyware?
This is a tough question. At one time the answer was "yes," where adware was just used to send users advertisements, and spyware was used to spy on users. Today, the line between the two is so blurred that they're usually grouped together and labeled spyware.

How do I get spyware?
Many "free" programs come with spyware/adware written into them to install when the "free" program is installed. It would be nearly impossible to know if the "free" program that you installed had spyware written into it or not.

Another way you can get spyware is to visit a website that has a spyware program written into the site's code. This method is becoming an increasingly popular method of spyware installation as the vast majority of Internet users don't know how to read the page's code.

Yet another way users can unknowingly get spyware is by visiting a web page that generates a pop-up telling the user that they are infected and they have a program to remove it. The same window will usually include a link to another page where the user can install a bogus program that never fixes any spyware but often times makes it far worse than before.

Internet users must be very aware of where they're surfing and what they install.

How do I prevent spyware from being installed?
The best tip would be to stay away from disreputable web sites and refrain from installing programs at will. Read what's displayed in a pop-up window, and if you're not sure, close the window. There is a difference between clicking "No" and closing the window. Some pop-up windows are coded to install a spyware program even if you click "No," so clicking the "X" in the window's corner or pressing the "ALT" and "F4" keys at the same time to force the window to close are the best ways to cancel an installation.

There are some legitimate free programs that will scan for, remove, and immunize your computer from spyware installations. Two programs that are very good at this are Spybot Search and Destroy and Ad-Aware, which happen to be free of charge. You can download Spybot
HERE. Ad-Aware can be downloaded HERE.

Take note in that you should make sure that the program you want to download is what you're downloading. Spyware can redirect you to a bogus download without your consent. The file name for Spybot is: spybot14.exe. Ad-Aware's name is: aawsepersonal.exe

Users can install one or both of these programs to scan their computer for spyware. Once downloaded, make sure that you're connected to the Internet and download the updates for the program(s) and then run the program(s). A general rule of thumb is that it's safe to delete anything that either of these programs finds. Both programs are very easy to use and information on them can easily be found online.

A firewall is another way that users can prevent unwanted intrusions to their computers by closing off parts of their computer from outside access. There are several choices of firewalls that users can purchase, so be sure to read up on different products and compare. Windows XP users have some advantages over non XP users in that XP comes with a firewall and other features which grants the user more control over their computer's security. As always, be sure that your computer has the most current Windows security patches by clicking HERE.

How do spyware removal programs work?
Spyware removal programs (such as Spybot and Ad-Aware) work similarly to antivirus programs in that they reference your computer files against a list of spyware programs and file extensions. Upon finding a recognized file(s), the program compiles a list and upon completion lets you decide what action to take. Legitimate anti-spyware programs won't remove anything without your direction to do so.

Is all spyware/adware malicious?
It all depends upon the individual user. There are two sides to this issue, and each side has viable points to argue. Generally speaking, most people don't want to be bombarded with unwanted advertisements, have personal data sent to people over the Internet, nor do most people want their Internet browsers to be hijacked to unwanted pages.

Are pop-ups related to spyware?
In many cases pop-ups are indicative of a spyware intrusion. Random pop-ups featuring unwanted content shouldn't be confused with a legitimate site opening up a new window. The best defense would be to find a legitimate spyware removal program, download it, update it, run it, and then remove what it finds. For more information see question #4.

What does TMT do about spyware?
Neither TMT, nor any other ISP for that matter, can prevent spyware from being installed on your computer. It is literally impossible for TMT to filter spyware programs, hijackers, pop-ups, etc. from happening to our users. However, TMT users are the only ones that can prevent spyware programs, hijackers, pop-ups, etc. from being installed on their computers by surfing reputable web sites and being smart about what programs they install. Refer to question #4 for more information on spyware prevention.

If a TMT user finds that they've become infested with spyware programs, hijackers, pop-ups, etc. it is recommended that they refer to question #4 and try removing it on their own. If the problem persists, we recommend that they bring in their computer so that we can remedy the problems.

Tiger Mountain Technologies
208 2nd Ave. (PO Box 1574)
Morton, WA 98356

FAX line number:360-496-5427
Morton area phone number:360-496-6161
Mossyrock area phone number:360-985-0240

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© 2004 Tiger Mountain Technologies, LLC