Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Your computer may not be as secure as you think, thanks to 'spyware'
Stars and Stripes ^ | October 29, 2002 | Rick Chernitzer

Posted on 10/28/2002 7:12:41 PM PST by Nachum

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Spies could be lurking through the corridors of your computer, taking note of what you type, where you surf and with whom you talk online.

They could be reporting this information to numerous companies and individuals, amassing huge secret files about you and your family.

And possibly the most galling thing about this is that you may have given them permission to be there.

“Spyware,” as they’re called in computer jargon, are tiny programs that bury themselves deep in the recesses of your computer, not taking up much space but playing Big Brother to everything you do online.

Kevin Monis, a network administrator at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, said these programs, supposedly used for market research, can be utilized for darker purposes.

“The potential is there,” he said. “From the standpoint of a terrorist looking for information, if they were able to easily break into something, they could see what measures the base is taking to respond to a specific attack.

“If you disrupt the base communications … while at the same time maybe physically attacking the base, it could just be a catastrophe.”

Monis said the base network takes “very strong protective measures” to ward off such intrusive programs. He declined to specify but said the measures are “along the lines of what every company should be doing.”

But for the most part, Monis said, programmers tend to be more interested in information they can market to others, selling it to companies that have interest in your Web-surfing habits.

“I call it dishonest,” he said. “You think you’re getting this, but in reality, you’re getting that and some other things you didn’t want.”

Spyware’s advent really took hold when computer users began demanding more from Internet sites they visited, Monis said.

“The users have demanded whiz-bang interfaces … nice gee-whiz kind of screens like you might see on CNN.com … people want to see real-time information on their screens,” he said.

Among the easiest ways to do this is to create programs that interact with the Web browser or software that allows users to access the Internet.

Programs are downloaded that tell the browser what to do. They also can instruct other parts of your computer to do things, such as keep a log of your keystrokes, access records of Web sites you’ve visited and send that information through your modem or other Internet connection to specific Web sites.

“So I give permission for this program to be installed, but I didn’t read the fine print where it says I said it was OK to track my demographics,” he said.

The programs also use your Internet connection to transmit the information back to whomever is asking for it. This transfer takes up your bandwidth, which can slow Internet access.

“That’s the most insulting part of it,” Monis said.

He said it doesn’t usually happen on computers with network firewalls, which restrict access by allowing only certain information to pass and only through particular portals, or electronic routes that allow access, either to Web sites or individual computers.

“You got a much better situation when you’re behind the firewall,” Monis added.

But breaching a firewall does happen occasionally, he admitted, adding that many computer users are unaware of the dangers these programs can present.

“The average person takes no precautions whatsoever,” he said. “They don’t know there are ways to protect themselves against some forms of these programs.”

The simplest is to adjust your browser’s security level, he said: “When you go to the Web sites that have this type of spyware, because your security is closed tighter, it won’t be able to get into your computer.”

Another defense mechanism, if you use high-speed access such as DSL, is a network router, Monis said. It masks your computer’s “IP address,” an identifying number every computer must have to be recognized and allowed to connect to the Internet.

“It’s not foolproof but far and away one of the easiest ways to cut down your exposure to malicious attack,” he said.

Users also can delete the tiny bits of information some sites leave on your computer to remember you, called “cookies.”

On the surface, they are very convenient, Monis admits: They remember certain settings, or your name, thus speeding time needed to get what you want from the site — but the information also could be used to target you.

“I’m guilty of it myself … I hate like heck to dump my cookies, even though it’s a good idea to dump them every one or two weeks,” he said.

“If people used just a little bit of caution, they wouldn’t have all these problems,” he added. “There are lots of bright people out there who are trying to crash through your front door.”


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: spyware
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-65 next last

1 posted on 10/28/2002 7:12:41 PM PST by Nachum
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Nachum
Remove Spyware with AdAware
2 posted on 10/28/2002 7:15:31 PM PST by martin_fierro
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: martin_fierro
Yep.
3 posted on 10/28/2002 7:16:55 PM PST by Sir Gawain
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: martin_fierro
Thanks Martin. You forgot to mention that AdAware is free. It's a great program.
4 posted on 10/28/2002 7:17:57 PM PST by Jean S
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: martin_fierro
Bingo...
5 posted on 10/28/2002 7:21:18 PM PST by Vidalia
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: martin_fierro
Thanks for the reminder. It's been a week since I ran my ad aware, and just found 29 components BESIDES my cookies.
6 posted on 10/28/2002 7:22:16 PM PST by I still care
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Nachum
I use AD-AWARE to get rid of spyware:

Ad-aware is a free multi spyware removal utility designed for all Win9x / ME / NT40 / W2000 platforms. It scans your system for components of known spyware parasites and lets you remove them safely. Feel free to email if you have further questions : support@lavasoftUSA.com

To download a copy of Ad-aware go to www.lavasoftUSA.com

Another option is: SPYBOT, go to www.voiceofthepublic.com

7 posted on 10/28/2002 7:23:04 PM PST by mostlyundecided
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: martin_fierro
Dude, when I check what processes are running on my box, I find a few executables I do not recognize. How do I find out what they are (XP user)?
8 posted on 10/28/2002 7:24:33 PM PST by Senator Pardek
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: I still care
Can't think of anything any site is tracking on me, except the fact I buy conservative-topic books online.
9 posted on 10/28/2002 7:26:41 PM PST by Ciexyz
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Nachum
I had to chew out a client this afternoon over that. Misleading windoze messenger service messages were popping up on every computer, including their server, as if norton anti-virus had detected something but it was in fact spam generated by that [expletive deleted] Gator spam-ware.

I asked, "What software have you installed lately that didn't originally come with the computer I left on your desk?" The answer was a "neat little 'FREE' date manager with lots of nifty little features!"

I asked, "Did you read the ENTIRE license agreement when you installed it?" She replied "No! Nobody ever reads that stuff!"

"Well, had you bothered to read it, you would have noticed that you agreed to allow the installation of software that contacts its home base from your computer, retrieves spam, and then annoys you by popping up system messages in your face. Now that I've killed a half hour of my time, and we're going to kill another half hour of OUR time while we remove that [expletive deleted] spamware off your computer, was that thing really FREE?"

Unfortunately, I can't prohibit the client from installing software on their machines or I would have. As it is that neat little bit of "free" software was anything but "free."
10 posted on 10/28/2002 7:29:24 PM PST by agitator
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Senator Pardek
Just start ending processes. Start with explorer.exe and go from there.
11 posted on 10/28/2002 7:32:17 PM PST by Sir Gawain
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Senator Pardek
kidding
12 posted on 10/28/2002 7:33:38 PM PST by Sir Gawain
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

Ad-aware is on every machine I touch, set to do a complete scan on boot-up. It looks like we have a strong consensus on this thread.

Full setup at home:

Router appliance
Ad-aware everywhere
auto-updating Norton AV everywhere
Often running Zonealarm (it's been a little flakey under XP - anyone have anything better?)
13 posted on 10/28/2002 7:34:25 PM PST by FreedomPoster
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: FreedomPoster
I just downloaded it and ran it. Interesting program, thanks.
14 posted on 10/28/2002 7:37:39 PM PST by Nachum
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: martin_fierro
Remove Spyware with AdAware

I run AdAware daily, and typically find four spyware cookies on my computater. What I wonder is, why isn't this junk made ILLEGAL? Know of any rebellious movements toward this goal?

15 posted on 10/28/2002 7:42:25 PM PST by FlyVet
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: martin_fierro
Thank you. You're a gem.
16 posted on 10/28/2002 7:43:32 PM PST by Gracey
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Senator Pardek
Sometimes if a running executable is named, you can search for it on your computer and tell from its location or its Properties what it is. That isn't a bad idea, because it's good to know what your computer is up to.

I also use AdAware regularly, because my kids seem to visit sites that plant advertising spyware in my computer.
17 posted on 10/28/2002 7:48:04 PM PST by Cicero
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: agitator
Gator is certainly one of the worst of them. And Comet Cursor.
18 posted on 10/28/2002 7:49:18 PM PST by Cicero
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Cicero
I use AdWare too, and there's still some weird stuff there. Good advice - I'll check where the .exe stuff is located.
19 posted on 10/28/2002 7:49:40 PM PST by Senator Pardek
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: Sir Gawain
Start with explorer.exe and go from there.

lol, you are not a nice person.

20 posted on 10/28/2002 7:51:47 PM PST by Jean S
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: rdb3
Aren't you glad you run Linux?
21 posted on 10/28/2002 7:55:17 PM PST by TechJunkYard
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: TechJunkYard
But of course! Hey, this new TTF font rendering engine showing pretty well to you?
22 posted on 10/28/2002 7:57:10 PM PST by rdb3
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: FreedomPoster
Your list is a good start, but you should consider adding:

Popup Stopper

Mozilla for the cookie control, additional pop-up blocking, and the Tabbed windows. (Hit control T, do a Google search in the new tab, and keep your place in FR in the old tab.)
23 posted on 10/28/2002 8:00:51 PM PST by PAR35
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: FlyVet
What I wonder is, why isn't this junk made ILLEGAL?

You gave your permission to have that stuff loaded onto your computer. Stop doing it if you don't like it.

24 posted on 10/28/2002 8:01:13 PM PST by altair
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: rdb3
Just the same old font you've been using... ;-)
25 posted on 10/28/2002 8:01:31 PM PST by TechJunkYard
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: TechJunkYard
I do most of my work using BSD! No damn viri, no popups!
26 posted on 10/28/2002 8:02:26 PM PST by jbstrick
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: jbstrick
And NO giving the root password to the users; so they CAN'T install their own software!
27 posted on 10/28/2002 8:05:27 PM PST by TechJunkYard
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: agitator
Those motherf*ckers (I'm not going to be as careful about my expletive deletion) at Gator ought to be tarred, feathered, then set on fire, while their families watch. Seriously, the stuff they do should be illegal.

There's a free message forum server called Network 54 that has a forum I used to frequent. For the last few months, they've gotten downright NASTY with their pop-up ads. Gator is one of them. About every other time you load a page, you get a pop-up box claiming that "Internet Explorer needs to download and install the following plugin to properly view this page". It's exactly the same plugin box you get when you need to download Flash Player or whatever. Except in this case, it's Gator. If you press the "Yes" button (which many people probably do), it'll install its evil spyware. Because there is absolutely no reason that Gator needs to be installed in order to view the page, I'd say that's misleading if not outright lying to the user.

They should be put permanently out of business. If this gets removed because of my first sentence, so be it. I cannot possibly express my hatred for these bastards.
28 posted on 10/28/2002 8:13:57 PM PST by jenny65
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: martin_fierro
I have a HARDWIRED firewall and router....do I really need Adware? (I read in the reviews one person said it screws up win98....which I have)
29 posted on 10/28/2002 8:18:11 PM PST by goodnesswins
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: jenny65
PanicWare, dear. That, and AdAware then you'll be fine.
30 posted on 10/28/2002 8:20:37 PM PST by rdb3
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: goodnesswins
I have a HARDWIRED firewall and router....do I really need Adware? (I read in the reviews one person said it screws up win98....which I have)

I can't answer your question about firewalls, but I use Ad-Aware on my Win98SE system, and I've never had a problem with it. The only warning I've heard about it is that it can possibly remove things that should be there (associated with legitimate programs), but nothing having to do with the OS. I rarely have a need to run it, as I'm so careful about what I download and run. But it has caught a couple of minor things in the past.
31 posted on 10/28/2002 8:26:25 PM PST by jenny65
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: altair
You gave your permission to have that stuff loaded onto your computer. Stop doing it if you don't like it.

If you mean my security settings, you are right, in a round-about way. But there are certain websites that I can't view conveniently without having cookies and the need to reload the info over and over. Can you see the difference between cookies and spyware? I can. The arrogance of certain keyboard warriors sometimes amazes me. I assume you allow NO cookies onto your machine. Feel free to enlighten me.

32 posted on 10/28/2002 8:26:30 PM PST by FlyVet
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: rdb3
Yes, I run Ad-Aware. I also run ZoneAlarm Pro which, along with firewall protection, stops most pop-ups. It works on the forum I mentioned. But my work PC doesn't have any of that, so I have to put up with it there. I just stopped visiting it.
33 posted on 10/28/2002 8:32:35 PM PST by jenny65
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: jenny65
Your IT policy at work won't allow you to install it? If it doesn't, be nice to your sysadmins. Outside of a security guard, these are the best people to have on your side.
34 posted on 10/28/2002 8:36:55 PM PST by rdb3
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

To: martin_fierro
I have been using AdAware for a month now. It's a great program (and free).
35 posted on 10/28/2002 8:38:01 PM PST by SamAdams76
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: All
Buy it & also get Ad Aware - it blocks new spyware before it's installed - I've got it & it's great. (Only $15) I like buying inexpensive great programs & helping good programmers stay around.

Freebies are nice, but if I use it & find that it does what it says & does it well, then I buy the product - they've earned my support.

"Ad-aware plus - Includes Ad-watch and the Ad-aware plus application with additional features. Free lifetime updates and customer support inclusive. The registration fee for a single license is $15."

Get it here, if you want it.

To order Ad Aware & Ad Watch

FReegards,
RebelTex

Rebel Flag Texas Flag

36 posted on 10/28/2002 8:38:18 PM PST by RebelTex
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: Senator Pardek
Hmmm, not sure about what programs are running in XP's background, but run AdAware and have it do a "deep registry scan."

If it identifies files with the following names:
Cydoor
Alexa
Gator
flag 'em for deletion.

Just know that if you remove some programs' Spyware, you also lose functionality of that program.
37 posted on 10/28/2002 8:42:46 PM PST by martin_fierro
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: martin_fierro
Thanks. Here's some - lsas.exe/csrss.exe/smss.exe
38 posted on 10/28/2002 8:45:53 PM PST by Senator Pardek
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 37 | View Replies]

To: goodnesswins
As far as I know, AdAware is pretty innocuous to Windows 98.

Have AdAware do a Deep Registry Scan and mark the folowing files for deletion:
Cydoor
Gator
Alexa

Of course, once you remove Gator's spyware, Gator will no longer run -- but you may not care. :)
39 posted on 10/28/2002 8:45:57 PM PST by martin_fierro
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: martin_fierro
I looked these files up and I don't like them.
40 posted on 10/28/2002 8:47:21 PM PST by Senator Pardek
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 37 | View Replies]

To: martin_fierro
Gator....what IS Gator? LOL....no I don't think I would care.
41 posted on 10/28/2002 8:47:43 PM PST by goodnesswins
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies]

To: JeanS
Start with explorer.exe and go from there.

I bought a laptop earlier i the year, one that came with a few months or Norton AV. The license expired and I waited a bit for the price to come down on a suite of Norton products.

Upon getting said suite or products and running them guess what shows up as a Trojan?

Ding!!!

iexplorer.exe.

had to delete the file under DOS as Windows and Norton would not remove it because it was protected.

42 posted on 10/28/2002 8:53:14 PM PST by PFKEY
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Senator Pardek
According to Google.com,

lsas.exe might be an FTP program?

csrss.exe = Win32 subsystem server process

and

smss.exe (and csrss.exe) are filenames commonly found in the %SystemRoot%\System32 directory. Presence of these 2 files in the System32 directory is not an indication of infection.

43 posted on 10/28/2002 8:53:23 PM PST by martin_fierro
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: goodnesswins
Gator is a utility that purports to remember all your passwords for you -- so when you visit a site that requires you to enter your password, Gator does it for you.

Sounds great, but Gator is notorious for 1) putting lots of Spyware on your PC; and 2) bugging you with those popup ads.
44 posted on 10/28/2002 8:57:53 PM PST by martin_fierro
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 41 | View Replies]

To: martin_fierro
What I'd like to get rid of are the emails that are porno comeons about pictures of musicians (Brittney, et al) and their sex lives.....anyone got any ideas for that....my Eudora only allows me to dump them in my trash.
45 posted on 10/28/2002 9:00:01 PM PST by goodnesswins
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 44 | View Replies]

To: goodnesswins
I don't know if your ISP or e-mail setup allows for it, but try Mailwasher.

Mailwasher (free) looks at the e-mail waiting for you on your server and helps you "pre-delete" SPAM before you download it to your computer.

46 posted on 10/28/2002 9:04:03 PM PST by martin_fierro
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 45 | View Replies]

To: goodnesswins; FlyVet
Spyware can be embedded in a program that you downloaded yourself (such as RealPlayer) or program you gave permission to download & install, or just a cookie that activates when you hit a certain website. All of these come through the http internet port 80, so a firewall doesn't block them (unless you blocked access to the internet.

Computers have hundreds of ports that can be used to communicate various things & that's what a firewall is designed to manage & close. For example, your e-mail program most likely uses the standard pop3 & smpt ports of 25 & 110.

If you configure your firewall to close those ports (in this example), then you would not be able to send/receive e-mail with that program.

Goodnesswins, Ad Aware runs fine on Win98 & all versions of Windows.

FlyVet, you don't have to delete all of your cookies to get rid of spyware, but you should periodically examine them & delete all except those you need (like FreeRepublic).

A good web site to check out for info on spyware & internet privacy issues is: http://www.grc.com/

FReegards,
RebelTex
47 posted on 10/28/2002 9:05:26 PM PST by RebelTex
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: FreedomPoster
Norton Firewall...works like a charm for me running W2K





45semi


48 posted on 10/28/2002 9:06:12 PM PST by 45semi
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: martin_fierro
lsass.exe is the Local Security Authority process and is a standard system process. Don't mess with it. :)
49 posted on 10/28/2002 9:12:45 PM PST by agitator
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 43 | View Replies]

To: RebelTex
Thanks for your rational response. Like I said, I run AdAware daily and almost always find spyware on my system. But I still wonder why it's legal. I don't have a problem with cookies that provide a "memory" to such sites as TV listings or e-mail, since it's a convenience not having to input info every time you visit the site. Spyware, monitoring your surfing activities, uninvited, I don't understand that. Shouldn't be legal. I think it was the Sun Microsystems CEO that was quoted a few years ago, "There is no privacy, get over it."
50 posted on 10/28/2002 9:16:06 PM PST by FlyVet
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 47 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-65 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson