Spyware what is it? Freeware Is it really free:
Freeware is a great idea! The Advertiser supported software that doesn't cost
you anything, but is it really free? All you have to do is give your name, address,
phone, e-mail, and some other general information. That's not a bad tradeoff,
right? But, what if your personal information was also stored elsewhere on your
hard drive, and transmitted your personal data via the Internet back to advertisers
in exchange for more advertising? now that's spyware AKA adware.
Spyware is ANY SOFTWARE which employs a user's Internet connection
in the background (the so-called "backchannel") without their knowledge
or explicit permission. Or, ANY SOFTWARE communicating across the Internet absent
of these elements is guilty of information theft and is properly and rightfully
Another potential problem is that many are poorly written, "contain
bugs or errors", and can cause problems with the normal operation of your
computer. If your web-browser experiences "General Protection Faults",
hangs, or freezes it may be due to one or more of these types of program interfering
with its proper function.
The big problem with Adware is the concept of reporting all your
Internet surfing habits back home for data collection purposes. If this type
of spying bothers you, then removing the spyware from your system might be a
How does Spyware work?
A: The user downloads what is apparently a free and useful software utility.
"Yes, thank you wonderful software company for providing me with these
free tools to use on my computer" says the user.
B: The user does the usual thing of installing the program without even reading
them it pertains to the full hidden capabilities of the software.
C: Now when the program is installed it also bundles in some other extra bits
from certain advertising or marketing agencies. These are usually plugins designed
for forwarding advertisement to the software that will run when it is being used,
ad revenue subsidizes the software so that you get it for free or at a discount,
so fare enough the software makers should get something in return for all their
D: Then the user gets bored with the software and removes it from their computer,
or just doesn't use it.
E: Why the user computer suddenly starts sending information in the background
to a web address they've never heard of before when the user connects to the
Internet? That's right the issue is not that things are being uploaded i.e..
Banner Ads to run in certain software but that information is being sent without
the user permission, even if the software it came with isn't being used or may
have been removed.
Most all of these spyware programs DON'T collect specific information
about you, but only report general demographics, and therefore are NOT stealing
your name, credit card, or other personal information. But we can't be sure.
It has been proven that software companies who denied their software was even
able to forward personally identifying information were not telling the truth.
Using combinations of Machine and MAC address codes you can be tracked.
All of the information gathered by these companies is potentially being sold
and resold with an combined with other databases to build up profiles of individual
web users, we believe this is primarily for direct marketing purposes.
What I do in the privacy of MY own HOME is MY business and MY business alone,
like what you personally do in the privacy of YOUR own HOME, is YOUR business
and YOUR business alone. Software authors that use spyware do not care about
anyone's privacy. They breach our personal privacy and spoil our Internet experience
If you use the RealNetworks RealDownload, Netscape/AOL Smart Download, or NetZip
Download Demon utilities in their default configuration . . .
EVERY TIME you use one of these utilities to download ANY FILE from ANYWHERE
on the Internet, the complete "URL address" of the file, along with
a UNIQUE ID TAG that has been assigned to YOUR machine, and in the case
of Netscape's SmartDownload only YOUR computer's individual Internet
IP address, is immediately transmitted to the program's publisher.
This allows a database of your entire, personal, file download history to be
assembled and uniquely associated with your individual computer . . . for whatever
purpose the program's publishers may have today, or tomorrow.
- is an amazing new tool that allows you to "Find out the TRUTH
about anyone you ever wanted to know about your friends, family, neighbors,
employees, and even your boss!" You can even check out yourself. It is
all completely legal , and you can do it all in the privacy of your own home
without anyone ever knowing. It's even better than hiring a private investigator.
Recent adware controversies have centered on Gator and
Ezula, two firms that bundle their adware with dozens of popular programs, including
the game Snood, utilities like WeatherBug, and file-sharing software such as
Kazaa and AudioGalaxy Satellite.
Gator covers banner ads on a site with ads from its clients. The program also
sends periodic reports to Gator's server about the Web sites you've visited
and the ad banners you've clicked, so Gator can favor you with ever-more-relevant
is anonymous and will not be sold.
Ezula's TopText, in contrast, works by overlaying hyperlinks onto whatever
Web page you're viewing. While visiting ESPN.com, for example, you might see
a yellow TopText link on the word football that, if clicked, would take you
to a competing sports site.
Ezula and Gator say that their advertisers are very pleased with results, and
they claim that millions of PCs have loaded the software.
Critics say these new ad techniques violate consumers' rights and infringe
on copyright laws by changing a Web site's content and design. One trade group,
the Internet Advertising Bureau, claims that Gator's practice of covering a
site's ads with Gator's clients' ads illegally interferes with the contractual
relationship between the site and its advertisers. Gator has countered with
a declarative relief civil suit against IAB, seeking to have its practice ruled
to be lawful.
Consumer groups also criticize the way adware often is slipped into downloads
without adequate notification.
Gator maintains users aren't tricked into installing his software (adware programs
are listed in the terms-of-service contracts users must accept before they can
download), and he says there's nothing wrong with helping people get free software
in exchange for seeing ads. Ezula, says users are notified about TopText and it's
up to them to opt in or out of it.
Many users overlook the particulars of the often-dense TOS agreements, however.
So some people realize they have adware only when extra links appear on Web
pages or when ads multiply.
Web surfers' ire over these programs is having an impact. Spedia, which distributed
a program like TopText, stopped in response to complaints. Spedia had bundled
adware with its SurfPlus software, which blocks pop-up ads.
The privacy experts caution users to download prudently. You need to be aware
of what you're downloading and who produced it. And no one surfing today's Web
should confuse "free" with "annoyance-free."
Click here for a list of Known Spyware:
To Detect Adware
Open the Windows Task Manager by pressing Ctrl-Alt-Delete. It lists the programs
running in the background.
Spyware Killer is also a firewall. It alerts you when any program attempts to send
or receive data (such as any personal information) and lets you block or approve
each attempt and find out which apps are making the requests.
Note: BearShare/Spyware!: BearShare has been identified
as containing "SPYWARE" by www.spychecker.com and others. BearShare supposedly
installs programs called "Onflow" and "Savenow". You can go to the Bearshare
site, go to the documentation section, then to the FORUMS. In the forums goto
the area called Adware. (if its still there) This is not a joke, go read about
the adware/spyware they installed on your system. Spyware/Adware will not kill
you but its definately not cool. Are they reading your hardrive? Did you know
they were on your system? Have you read the fine print in the BearShare user
agreement? Disable the spyware & keep bearshare. Bearshare is a great program...
but... Gnutella can exist without bearshare. Do you care?
Ad Industry Provides Method for Mass Opt-Out:
Several of the biggest ad networks, including DoubleClick, L90 and 24/7 Media,
have joined forces to create a Website that allows consumers to opt out of their
data collection efforts. here!