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Spyware and Adware Removal Guide - Speed Up and Free your PC (Page 2)

By Cameron Wilmot on Oct 14, 2004 11:00 pm CDT
Manufacturer: none

Spyware Definitions

Before we start checking out the different software options available to you, we first need to have a clear understanding of the different Spyware terms you will come across when protecting your privacy.

The following is provided to us by Webroot Software, the makers of Spy Sweeper.


Adware is any software application that has the ability to display advertisements on your computer. Some adware may track your Web surfing habits. These advertisements may be displayed in many forms, including, but not limited to, pop-up, pop-under, and banner advertisements. Adware may slow your Web browser's performance.

Worst case scenario: Some adware may have the ability to download third party software programs on your computer without your knowledge or consent.

Anti-Spyware software

Anti-Spyware software protects a PC from Spyware infection. Spyware protection software will find and remove Spyware without system interruption.

Browser Hijacker

Browser hijackers have the ability to change your Internet Explorer settings, redirect your Web searches through their own search engines, redirect mistyped or incomplete URLs, and change your default home page. They may redirect your searches to "pay-per-search" Web sites which are very often pornographic Web sites.

Worst case scenario: If a hijacker changes your Internet Explorer browser settings, you may be unable to change back to your preferred settings. You may also be unable to browse the Internet entirely.

Cookie (or Adware Cookie)

Cookies are pieces of information that are generated by a Web server and stored on your computer for future access. Cookies were originally implemented to allow you to customize your Web experience. However, some Web sites now issue adware cookies, which allow multiple Web sites to store and access cookies that may contain personal information (surfing habits, usernames and passwords, areas of interest, etc.), and then simultaneously share the information with other Web sites. Adware cookies are installed and accessed without your knowledge or consent.

Worst case scenario: This sharing of information allows marketing firms to create a user profile based on your personal information and sell it to other firms.


Dialers have the ability to disconnect your computer from your local Internet provider and reconnect you to the Internet using an expensive pornographic, toll, or international phone number. They do not spy on you, but they may rack up significant long distance phone charges. They have the ability to run in the background, hiding their presence.

Worst case scenario: Dialers may rack up significant long distance phone charges.

Drive-by download

When programs are downloaded without the user's knowledge or consent. Most often accomplished when the user clicks to close or eliminate a random advertisement or other dialogue box.


Encryption is the scrambling of data so it becomes difficult to unscramble and interpret.


A firewall prevents computers on a network from communicating directly with external computer systems. A firewall typically consists of a computer that acts as a barrier through which all information passing between the networks and the external systems must travel. The firewall software analyzes information passing between the two and rejects it if it does not conform to pre-configured rules. Firewalls provide effective protection against worm infection, but not against Spyware like Trojans, which hide in legitimate applications, then install secretly on a user's PC when the application is launched.

Home Page Hijacker (or Browser Hijacker)

A program that can change settings in your Internet browser; most often including your search page to redirect all searches to a specified pay-per-search site, and your default home page to the company page - often a pornography site.

Information Privacy

The interest an individual has in controlling, or at least significantly influencing, the handling of data about themselves.


A keylogger is a type of system monitor that has the ability to record all keystrokes on your computer. Therefore, a keylogger can record and log your e-mail conversations, chat room conversations, instant messages, and any other typed material. They have the ability to run in the background, hiding their presence.

Worst case scenario: A third party may be able to view your personal conversations and may gain access to private information such as your usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, or your Social Security number.

Layered Service Provider (LSP)

A Layered Service Provider is a system driver that is linked into the Networking system for Microsoft Windows computers. It has the ability to access all data entering and leaving through the network interfaces.

Operating System

The operating system is usually the underlying software that enables you to interact with the computer. The operating system controls the computer storage, communications and task management functions. Examples of common operating stems include: MS-DOS, MacOS, Linux, Windows. Also: OS, DOS.

Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

Information such as name, address, phone number, credit card information, bank account information, or social security number.


The interest that individuals have in sustaining a 'personal space,' free from interference by other people and organizations.

Privacy Policy

The responsibilities of the organization that is collecting personal information and the rights of the individual who provided the personal information. Typically, this means that an organization will explain why information is being collected, how it will be used, and what steps will be taken to limit improper disclosure. It also means that individuals will be able to obtain their own data and make corrections if necessary.

"Remove me"

Options on spam that are often fake. That is, if you respond to request removal, you very well may be subjecting yourself to more spam, because by responding, the sender knows that your email account is active. A 2002 study performed by the FTC demonstrated that in 63% of the cases where a spam offered a "remove me" option, responding either did nothing or resulted in more email.


Software distributed for evaluation without cost, but that requires payment to the author for full rights. If, after trying the software, you do not intend to use it, you simply delete it. Using unregistered shareware beyond the evaluation period is pirating.


Unsolicited commercial email. It is sent, usually in bulk, through "open-relays" to millions of persons. Spam is cost-shifted advertising. It takes a toll on Internet users' time, their resources, and the resources of Internet Service Providers (ISP). Most recently, spammers have begun to send advertisements via text message to cell phones.


Spyware is software that transmits information back to a third party without notifying the user. It is also called malware, trackware, hijackware, scumware, snoopware or thiefware. Note: Some privacy advocates also call legitimate access control, filtering, Internet monitoring, password recovery, security or surveillance software "Spyware" because it could be used without notifying the users.

System Monitor

System monitors have the ability to monitor all of your computer activity. They range in capabilities and may record some or all of the following: keystrokes, e-mails, chat room conversations, instant messages, Web sites visited, programs run, time spent, and even usernames and passwords. The information is gathered via remote access or sent by e-mail, and may then be stored for later retrieval.

Worst case scenario: A third party may be able to view your personal conversations and may gain access to private information such as your usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, or your Social Security number.

Trojan Horse (also known as Trojan or Backdoor Trojan)

A Trojan horse is a program that allows a hacker to make changes to your computer. Unlike a virus, a Trojan does not replicate itself. It is generally disguised as a harmless software program and distributed as an e-mail attachment. Once you open the attachment, the Trojan may install itself on your computer without your knowledge or consent. It has the ability to manage files on your computer, including creating, deleting, renaming, viewing, or transferring files to or from your computer. It may utilize a program manager that allows a hacker to install, execute, open, or close software programs. The hacker may have the ability to open and close your CD-ROM drive, gain control of your cursor and keyboard, and may even send spam by sending mass e-mails from your infected computer. They have the ability to run in the background, hiding their presence.

Worst case scenario: A third party may gain access to your computer and do whatever the author has designed it to do.


A program or code that replicates, that is infects another program, boot sector, partition sector or document that supports macros by inserting itself or attaching itself to that medium. Most viruses just replicate, many also do damage.


A program that replicates itself over a computer network and usually performs malicious actions, such as using up the computer's resources and possibly shutting the system down. The name is an acronym for "write once, read many." A recent example of a worm is the Sasser worm (or W32.Sasser.A and its variants) that affected millions of corporate and private computer systems. Earlier in 2004, the Netsky worm (or W32/Netsky) spread by mass email using addresses obtained from an infected computer. It also spreads via local networks by trying to copy itself to shared folders on drives C: to Z:.

Even if you only read half of these definitions you'll be better off in understanding some of the lingo when it comes to Spyware. Now let's take a look at the first piece of Spyware removal software.

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Cameron Wilmot

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Cameron Wilmot

Cameron founded TweakTown in 1999 after it originally started off as his personal homepage. Cameron was once, many years ago, the only person at TweakTown producing content, but nowadays, Cameron spends his time ensuring TweakTown operates at its best in his senior management role.

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