Spyware

Is your computer under investigation? It may be if you have Spyware installed on it. Spyware is a potentially dangerous type of software because it can record your keystrokes, history, passwords, and other confidential and private information. Spyware is often gets installed covertly by riding on the back of another seemingly benign application. It is also often sold as a spouse monitor, child monitor, a surveillance tool or simply as a tool to spy on users to gain unauthorized access.

Spyware covertly gathers user information and activity without your knowledge. Spy software can record your keystrokes as you type them, passwords, credit card numbers, sensitive information, where you surf, chat logs, and can even take random screenshots of your activity. Basically whatever you do on the computer is completely viewable by the spy. You do not have to be connected to the Internet to be spied upon.

Some permutations of Spyware include the use of routines to mail out user activity via e-mail or posting information to the web where the spy can view it at their leisure. Also many spyware vendors use stealth routines and polymorphic (meaning to change) techniques to avoid detection and removal by popular anti-spy software. In some cases spyware, known as a retrospy, will counter-attack anti-spy packages by attempting to disable the program. In addition they may use routines to re-install the spyware application after it has been detected.

The most invasive type of spyware is installed on your computer by the user although usually unknowingly. Website cookies that collect information are automatically placed on your system depending on your web browser’s security settings.

A good general rule to follow is to not install software on your computer that is not required to perform your job functions.

It is possible to remove spyware. Two applications the Information Technology Department staff has used successfully in removing spyware are SpyBot and AdAware. You can find these applications here:

SpyBot: http://www.safer-networking.org/
AdAware: http://www.lavasoft.com/

The Information Technology Department is offering Sophos Anti-virus from Sophos Inc. This anti-virus solution also provides protection against spyware.
Download Sophos Anti-Virus

Instructions for installing this program are included as part of the Sophos Anti-virus file that you will download.