I have heard you refer to 'Spybot' on your radio show for getting rid of spyware. I also found a warning about a spybot virus. Are these things associated with each other?
This question was answered on May 28, 2003. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.
For those new to the Internet, spyware or adware generally refers to a program that resides on your computer that tracks your Internet usage and reports back to a marketing company These programs are not viruses or worms, but are often included in 'free' software downloads.
Many free programs that are downloaded from the Internet include an adware program that is a condition of the free use and is installed along with the primary program.
The Spybot program that we refer to on our radio show is a free utility that is actually called Spybot Search & Destroy and will find these hidden programs and get rid of them.
On the other hand, the 'spybot' worm/virus that was discovered in mid May is quite dangerous because of what it does and has nothing to do with the Spybot spyware program.
The reason the worm/virus was coined 'spybot' is because it installs a 'key logger' program into infected systems The key logger records every keystroke and sends the information to the attacker so they can review it to potentially gain access to important personal information.
The spybot worm will generally come as an attachment to an e-mail with an .exe file extension or be posted as a program in file sharing systems such as KaZaa Opening any attachment that ends in .exe, .scr, .bat, .pif, .vbs .js or .com is very dangerous and should be avoided.
Downloading any program file (not music or video) from KaZaa is like playing Russian roulette because you have no idea if the file is legitimate or is just a virus posing as a real file Today's worms and viruses automatically place themselves as files in KaZaa users shared file area so that they can fool others into downloading them They use file names like 'porn.exe, AVP_Crack.exe and zonealarm_pro_crack.exe' to entice software pirates into downloading them.
Many of today's worms incorporate key loggers, making them much more dangerous than those that simply attack your system because the victim generally has no idea that they are being monitored
The best defense against all of these attacks is to keep your anti-virus program up-to-date as well as keep your operating system up-to-date New vulnerabilities are discovered almost daily and free updates to fix these security risks are generally available for Windows users at WindowsUpdate.com and for Mac users at info.apple.com.
As far as the Spybot Search & Destroy program, it is one of the free programs that we recommend on the show that will find and remove adware and spyware (not viruses or worms) The other removal program that we like is called Ad-Aware and both are available for free via the Internet.
Spybot can be downloaded from <a href="http://www.spybot.com"'>www.spybot.com </a> and Ad-Aware can be downloaded at www.lavasoftusa.com but you don’t need to both, as either one does a pretty good job!
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Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on May 28, 2003