Computer Tips

Peeping Popups

I had a little misfortune this week – I picked up a peeping popup, aka spyware. It was, and still is, kind of sad – but I’m on the road to repair and I’m happy to share my map with you.

What is spyware? It’s a program that monitors your actions online. Hackers can use it to get confidential information as you surf, more often advertisers us it for market research – and then they feed you ads you probably don’t want. Unfortunately those ads often include adult-oriented ads that you really, really don’t want.

I suspected there was a problem when I noticed a lot more popup ads than usual. Once I admitted I had a problem the first step was to quit using Internet Explorer. I downloaded Mozilla’s Firefox. And you know what, I actually like it. Because I do web development, I keep Explorer around to see what sites look like in Explorer – but moving to Firefox has been really easy.

The next step, I ran spyware checker programs. Much like running a virus check, a spyware check will scan your files for spyware. First I tried AdAware from Lavasoft. They have a free trial version and I have been happy with them in the past. Unfortunately it froze up on me. So I tried Spy Sweeper; again they have a free trial. I ran it and it found 100+ suspicious files. So, I just deleted them all, which is easy to do when you use a checker. I could have chosen to save some files – as some were probably innocent cookies to help me remember passwords – but I wanted it gone.

So, there’s my tale. I hope it helps you. Also I have to thank Rick in Minneapolis for helping me. He’s my tech hero! For more information on spyware you can check out the Wikipedia.

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