Apples to Apples
Contest Winner: The Way of the Upgrade
The World of Processors
Tip: Virtual KVM
Tip: DVDs and Vista Media Player
New Survey: Windows Accessories
Survey Results: Online Video Viewing
Research: DVD Decryption Software Prevalence
If you had a complete knowledge of what most spyware was doing to your system, you would never agree to install it. So how does it end up installed on so many PCs? Here are some of the dirty tricks that spyware uses to worm its way onto your system and stay there. (Not all spyware uses every technique.)
It’s no secret that Windows has security holes so large you can drive a truck through them. My last article analyzed the difficulty Microsoft faces with Vista in winning acceptance of an improved security model. But this of course begs the question, what can Microsoft do to make a more secure computing environment for us all? Even if Microsoft is one of the most profitable companies run by the richest man in the world, I hope they can take a little constructive criticism.
Over the past few years, a new class of software has emerged that’s up to no good. It goes by many names: spyware, adware, foistware, malware, eulaware, or even crapware. For simplicity we’ll just call them all spyware. Here are some of the “features” you get from spyware. Some spyware may only use one or two of these tactics, while others do quite a bit more.
When Dave and I were at the Spyware Conference in Washington DC, we were approached by Avi Nader, CEO of WhenU. Avi was upset because we were passing our WhenU research to various reporters at the conference. Avi cornered Dave and me and asked, “Why are you picking on us? Why don’t you focus on the guys doing identity theft, and other horrible deeds?” I have had a lot of time to think about this question and my answer. Avi, if you’re listening, here is my response.
Dave and I attended the FTC Spyware Conference on April 19, 2004. With our latest survey information under our arms, we had hoped we could influence future spyware legislation. It was a learning experience and here is some of what we learned.
There is a war going on out there. As you are reading this, the forces of good and evil are at work battling to control your computer. This is not a joke nor an exaggeration. It is happening every day, and at times, I think the bad guys are winning. I’m talking about unwanted software. Software that installs itself largely without the user’s knowledge. The makers of these softwares are going to great lengths to gain control of your PC to further their own causes. Following are three different and distinct examples: