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Your Computer is Infected and You Donít Even Know It

By Joseph Mercola, D.O.

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ce of both of these threats has increased in 2003.

Trojans open ports on infected machines and allow malicious users to access data on that system remotely. A more mainstream use of this technology is called spyware, ad-serving software that (in the best case) allows advertisers to update and target advertising on your computer or (in the worst case) allows advertisers to track your Web habits for sale to other advertisers.

Trojan horses and spyware are quite similar: both have the potential to obtain information about you without your knowledge.

Some think spyware is acceptable, because it's what allows the software you're using to be free. And there are legitimate uses for this technology. But whatever the purpose, this activity should be disclosed somewhere in the end-user license agreement so that you know what your software is doing and can decide whether it's OK with you--but often it's not.

Unfortunately, antivirus software does little to stop spyware. It will identify and remove some Trojan horses associated with viruses, but it will not recognize those associated with free software. Firewalls can be effective in blocking spyware from communicating with other computers on the Internet. However, antivirus apps and firewalls won't protect against all Trojans or against spyware attacks on your system registry. For these more subtle threats, you're going to need a dedicated anti-spyware program.

The current issue of PC Magazine recommends the following program as one of the best out there, and to top it off it is free:

SpyBot Search & Destroy

Your computer is likely infected with a form of program called spyware. According to a recent GartnerG2, more than 20 million people have installed applications that report back to a company about your online activity.

In all likelihood you willingly installed much of your spyware yourself when you downloaded an application from the Internet. That is how some companies make money while not charging for their products. In a sense you are paying, but the coin is privacy, not money.

I recently had to reformat my Dell notebook, and the install was only a few weeks old yet spyware found over 20 items that needed to be removed. You might have hundreds.

SpyBot Download

The program is a bit tricky to install, as you must first download the program. Once downloaded you will need to find the program and execute it. Hint: Just remember the folder location that you download it to.

After you click the file it installs itself onto your computer, but you will need to go to your program folder and find it to execute it. Once it is executed it will need to go online and download an updated version with the latest information.

Finally after this lengthy process you can scan your entire computer for infections and then immunize your computer against future ones. It is a slight pain, but I believe it is worth it for the added protection you will receive.

Firefox--Alternative Web Browser

If you have any technical expertise at all, or know someone who does, I would highly recommend that you stop using Internet Explorer as your browser. Well over 99 percent of my Web surfing is done with the new browser called Firefox. It is much faster and gives you far better control over your Web experience.

I wrote a comprehensive article on Firefox a few months ago and my enthusiasm for Firefox has only increased since I started using it. I would never go back to Internet Explorer.

You can download Firefox at the following URL:

http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/releases/#download

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