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How To Prevent Spyware from infecting your computer  

Be skeptical about installing strange or free software:

When you download applications off the Internet, make sure you know exactly what is being installed onto your computer before you click "Yes."

Use the custom install option when available:

Try to view the programs that will be placed on your computer with the downloaded application. Spyware is often packaged with many free software downloads.

Make sure you know what's in a package of software before you install it:

Spyware is included in many file-sharing programs' installation packages. Taking just a few minutes to research the file you want to download may save you hours of frustration. Simply use this site or Google to search for "spyware" + the program name.

Pay attention to security warnings:

"Security Warning" screens alert users to new software being installed from Web pages they visit. This software can include ActiveX controls and other Trojans. You should not blindly accept such "Active-X" software installations; be sure you trust the company installing the software.

Carefully read the license agreement or privacy disclosure if one is provided:

Often these documents will tell you what the software will do when it executes, such as sharing your personal data with a third party or displaying targeted advertisements. If you are uncomfortable with what the software might do or you are unsure about the company, you should decline the installation.

Read the end user licensing agreement (EULA):

Almost all legitimate software installations will include an End User License Agreement (EULA) that includes a lot of information. You should make a habit of reading these EULAs. Ideally, they should tell you exactly what they intend to install on your machine and the limitations for your use of the software.

What to look for in EULAs:

Look for "bundled" software statements, what information they collect, and how they will utilize it. If the EULA is hard to find, or if the documentation is unreasonably difficult to read and understand, then you should think twice before agreeing to install the software.

Practice basic computer security hygiene:

As a general matter, there are some basic security precautions you should take to protect your computer from hackers, thieves and cyber-terrorists. Following these security tips below will help prevent all manner of programs from infecting your computer.

Always use anti-virus software
And keep the software up to date, viruses are discovered daily. You are not just protecting yourself when using virus software, but also others you communicate with.

Always use a firewall
While most spyware and other unwanted software come bundled with other programs or originate from unscrupulous Web sites, a small amount of spyware can actually be placed on your computer remotely by hackers. Installing a firewall or using the firewall that's built into Windows XP provides a helpful defense against these hackers. You can provide extra protection by enabling security on your Wireless Router.

Always use an Anti-Spyware Program
Spyware is very tough to remove. The fact is that in many variants of spyware you MUST use an Anti-spyware utility to remove the file. Consider using our TriSnap software as well as any of the vendors in our approved list.

Keep your software up to date:

If you use Windows XP, one way to help prevent spyware and other unwanted software is to make sure all your software is updated. First: visit Windows Update to confirm that you have Automatic Updates turned on and that you've downloaded all the latest critical and security updates. Second: regularly update your Anti-Spyware and Anti-Virus software to ensure you have the latest "signatures" as well. The two sites below are very valuable resources.

Read the Web site privacy policy:

Although sometimes very lengthy, the privacy policy describes what information the business collects about you and how it is used. Look for references to third party usage.

Use Tools to Remove Spyware:

Use SSI to check your system if you think spyware may have been installed on your computer. SSI is also handy for double checking your current Anti-Spyware program's effectiveness!

Simple Changes To Greatly Reduce Spyware Infections:

Change Browsers
It is also important to note, that practically all Spyware and Hijackers tend to target Internet Explorer, and not other browsers such as Netscape or Mozilla Firefox. Switching to an alternate Web Browser will reduce your risk of Spyware exposure. Mozilla Firefox is recommended. Whilst changing browsers is most commonly recommended, it is not actually going to resolve the issue. The most secure now, is not necessarily going to be the most secure in a few months.

Lock Your Hosts File
Many spyware programs hijack the Windows hosts file (located in %windir%system32\drivers\etc), which contains mappings of IP addresses to websites. This tells your computer where a website is on the Internet. By making just 1 change to this file you can prevent host file hijacking. To make sure the hosts file hasn't been hijacked, open it using Notepad and delete all references in it except for: localhost

Save the file and then edit its Attributes to mark it as read-only. Reboot.

Block Domains That Carry Advertising
The hpHosts and MVPS Hosts contains a ready-made list of hosts to block. Simply copy and paste into your host file, or feed the list into a firewall or routing appliance. Not only does this prevent spyware from being downloaded, it also prevents that much more bandwidth from being eaten up by advertising in general.

Block Bad Objects Using A Block List
Browser Helper Objects (BHOs) are small programs that run automatically every time you start your Internet browser, usually installed on your system by another software program -- and some classify as spyware.

One possible way to prevent bad BHOs from installing themselves on IE is to use a predefined list of objects that loads into a segment of the registry used to define BHOs that should not run. Spyware-Guide.Com maintains such a list, which can be loaded as a simple registry file (and unloaded just as easily). Unfortunately, some spyware do not use consistent nomenclatures when loaded and may not be affected by this list, but the list does silently block over 400 known bad BHOs. It can be a useful first line of defense.

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