Wednesday, June 09, 2004
I Spy
There is a new enemy in the world, and is it spyware. Ok, so it's not "new" but it is a growing problem and the little bastards who have been feverishly developing it are getting quite clever about it. I'm telling you folks, it is going to become the #2 annoyance next to spam, which we all know and love oh-so-much.

You might recall me mentioning last week that my computer was being taken over by some mysterious spyware; pages were getting redirected, pop-ups were dodging my pop-up stopper and strange lines would appear on pages I was looking at in my browser (including my own blog). These lines would underline words and be links to other pages and/or products, and would hit on certain keywords on any given page. Sometimes they would even override existing links so you couldn't click on the original and intended link. That was when I had enough.

So let me all spare you the grief and panic if you run into this problem by providing the steps I took. First of all I ran THREE spyware removal programs: Ad-Aware, SpyBot and SpySweeper. I like each program for different reasons but I wouldn't say you need all of them, that would be overkill. Either Ad-Aware or SpyBot is good for daily checks of your system, but SpySweeper seems to be the most in-depth and thorough. However, SpySweeper can take quite a long time to run so I would use it for weekly maintenance and let it run through the night.

After running those I ran a program called CWShredder. What a wonderful program (you should bookmark that link for the CWShredder, it has a list for most of those other programs). It's a little program that does a lightening fast search of your computer for a few of the worst and better known spyware programs (like the one I was having trouble with, which is why I used it) and can be updated. It found the one that was troubling me and removed it! Presto! Like magic. After that I ran SpySweeper one more time just to make sure it was all gone, and mercifully it was. Yay!

So let this be a lesson, kids. These programs are nasty because they redirect your homepages and other links, and they run programs in the background that you can't see but are using up previous RAM and bandwidth. So if you think your connection is a little slow or suddenly there are mysterious green or yellow lines under random're being spied on. And just today at work I was on a co-workers computer and noticed those nasty little lines under some words when I was looking at my blog, and I knew that my co-worker was having spyware problems too. Took care of that, oh yes I did. And so can you, so keep your eye out for it.

As an added point, this little spyware scare also prompted me to finally update my Norton, which had expired a MONTH prior to this. I apparently had two viruses floating around on my computer, one of which steals passwords while you surf. Talk about scaring the pants off me! Update your virus software too, kiddies. Don't be cheap (like me).

Before I go, let's give a shout out to a few people who have found my blog via their search engines.
Most apt was someone who came on here by typing "message broadcaster spyware" in AltaVista; funny that you should type that into a search engine since those were the EXACT words I typed in when I caught on to my spyware problem last week (the pop-up windows were the first sign, and they all said "message broadcaster" on them). Sorry I didn't write this post last week, I was still fuming.

More notably, I'd like to say hi to whoever typed in "help! I'm getting old!" into an MSN search engine. I'm not sure if it's a good or bad thing that I was ranked number one in that result, though I am quite certain I was of no help to that person (not that I understand what s/he was looking for).

And just for Rat, here's a search in which someone typed "stickybeak" into MetaCrawler and got me. Yay! And for those of you who have missed prior conversations and are wondering what the hell "stickybeak" means....well perhaps you should try the link I provided. *wink*

And one last thing! Meryl is giving out the "Anti-Semite of the Week" award to an asshole carrying around a sign that says "Smash the Jewish State". Hmm...sounds a lot like "kill all the Jews" to me (coz come didn't say stop building the fence, stop oppressing the Palestinians or all the usual crap. it is asking that the JEWISH state be SMASHED. a lovely sentiment). Check out her page for the info and her take on it.