Virus, Spyware/Parasite Information
What Is Internet Parasite Software?
Unwanted popup ads? Mysterious new program toolbars? Problems with your web browser and/or email program? Slow system performance? This page may provide the answers....
‘Parasite’ is a shorthand term for “unsolicited commercial software” — that is, a program that gets installed on your computer which you never asked for, and which does something you probably don’t want it to, for someone else’s profit.The parasite problem has grown enormously recently, and many millions of computers are affected. Unsolicited commercial software can typically:
- plague you with unwanted advertising (‘adware’);
- watch everything you do on-line and send information back to marketing companies (‘spyware’);
- add advertising links to web pages, for which the author does not get paid, and redirect the payments from affiliate-fee schemes to the makers of the software (such software is sometimes called ‘scumware’);
- set browser home page and search settings to point to the makers’ sites (generally loaded with advertising), and prevent you changing it back (‘homepage hijackers’);
- make your modem (analog or ISDN) call premium-rate phone numbers (‘dialers’);
- leave security holes allowing the makers of the software — or, in particularly bad cases, anyone at all — to download and run software on your machine;
- degrade system performance and cause errors thanks to being badly-written;
- provide no uninstall feature, and put its code in unexpected and hidden places to make it difficult to remove.
Where Do They Come From?
There are three major ways unsolicited commercial software can make its way on to your machine:
1. Some freeware programs are ‘bundled’ with parasites, which are installed at the same time. The P2P file-sharing programs are notorious for this; in particular, LimeWire, Grokster and KaZaA come with numerous unwanted add-ons. Often if you are careful to read the small print when you install the software it will warn you about this, and it is sometimes possible to opt-out. So always skim the licence agreement when you install and don’t just click Next-Next-Next... but you still can’t be sure they’ll tell you.
2. Many parasites load using Internet Explorer’s ActiveX installation option. When a web page includes a link to an ActiveX program, a window will appear asking the user wishes to execute it. If ‘Yes’ is clicked (or if IE security settings are set lower than normal so that it never even asks), the software is allowed to run and can do anything at all it likes on our computer, including installing parasites.
For this reason, you should never click ‘Yes’ to a “Do you wish to download and install...” prompt unless you are 100% sure you trust the publisher of the software, which might not be the publisher of the web site you are viewed — read the dialogue box very carefully. Sometimes sites (or pop-up ads) try to fool you into clicking ‘Yes’ by stating that the software is necessary to view the site, or opening error windows if you click ‘No’, or claiming that the digital certificate on the code means it is safe. It means no such thing. ‘Microsoft Authenticode’ means only that the company that wrote the software is the same as the company whose name appears on the download prompt, nothing more.
3. Some of the really sleazy parasites, particularly homepage-hijackers and dialers, execute by exploiting security holes in Internet Explorer, ways of getting code to run that are not supposed to be possible, but are due to mistakes in the browser. You can do your best to guard against this by ensuring you have the latest updates and patches from Microsoft. Still, there are usually a handful of security holes that have not yet been corrected, so you can never be 100% sure you are safe.
Free Antivirus Software from AVG!
This is a full-featured antivirus program that's free for individual and non-commercial use. Click on the link to read all about it and download the program.
Avast! - Free Antivirus Software
Free antivirus software for home computers. The interface is available in quite a number of different languages.
Microsoft Security Essentials
Provides real-time protection for your home PC that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.For Windows XP/Vista/7.
PC Online Security Analyzer/Virus Check
Use the Internet to test your computer for viruses and security weaknesses. Recommended for LAN-connected computers and can also be used via dial-up.
Malwarebytes has developed a variety of tools that can identify and remove malicious software from your computer. When your computer becomes infected, Malwarebytes can provide the needed assistance to remove the infection and restore the machine back to optimum performance.
Rogue/Suspect Anti-Spyware Products
"Rogue/Suspect" means that these products are of unknown, questionable, or dubious value as anti-spyware protection. If you find these on your system, you should consider removing them under the "Add or Remove Programs" function in the Windows Control Panel.
The Internet is an increasingly important place to work, play and learn for both adults and children. At the same time, we are concerned about the risks we face online. The challenge is to stay "one-click" ahead of would-be pornographers, hackers, child-predators and those who would misuse your and your child's sensitive information. GetNetWise can help. Sections on spam prevention, adware/spyware and Internet safety with links to both free and commercial tools to help protect your computer.
Spybot - Search & Destroy
Adware/spyware information website with links to download the current version of the SpyBot S&D program. SpyWare Blaster
This free program prevents Internet parasite software from installing on your computer. It has an over-the-Internet update function to keep up with the newest versions of adware/spyware.
Ad-Aware Detection and Removal Software
NOTICE: This software is for use only on personally-owned computers. It cannot be downloaded and installed on Thunderbird-owned computers.
Ad-aware Standard Edition is a free, multicomponent detection and removal utility. It will comprehensively scan your memory, registry, hard, removable and optical drives for known datamining, aggressive advertising, and tracking components. You may then choose to quarantine or delete all or part of the detected items.
Download and install the free software from a mirror site listed on their web page. Once installed,start the program and check for updates that will automatically install. Once updated, continue the program and follow the instructions.
SpyWare/ Adware Information Web Site
This web site also has a free online scanner that will check your system for spyware/adware and provide you the opportunity to remove it.
SpyWare/Adware Search by Name
This link allows you to search for adware/spyware by name. This is useful for getting info on suspect programs that show in your "Add/Remove Programs" list.
Enter (part of) the name of the Spyware you are looking for
Blocking Unwanted Parasites with a Hosts File
This is recommended for advanced users who wish to block access to websites that are notorious for installing unwanted adware/spyware on your computer. Be sure to read the instructions for use.
Excellent Adware Information Website From cexx.org
Information on many of the Internet parasites floating around the web. Links to detection and removal tools.
Lifetime Email Scanned For Viruses
Email messages being both sent and received through the Lifetime Email system are scanned for viruses. However, this is not a substitute for maintaining
updated virus protection on your personal computer.Due to the international makeup of the Thunderbird community, new viruses reach us very quickly.
It may be a few hours before a new threat is recognized and countered with antivirus updates. Additionally, many Thunderbird users utilize multiple email
accounts that may not employ virus protection.
Keep your antivirus software updated or use the free product offered by AVG or Avast to protect your computer from the constantly evolving virus threat.