Protect yourself from Spyware

Hello and welcome to my site!  I’ve long been interested in protecting myself online, after a server I used to run got hacked by some Russian thugs.  That hack ended up costing me a lot of money and they seemingly did it for no reason other than they could.

It made me mad and it made me realize how vulnerable we all are on the internet.

Now I’m not here to talk about securing servers, that is a lot more complicated and technical than I want to get into and quite frankly I don’t have the expertise to give good advice on that issue.

But personal security is something that we can all do relatively easily and inexpensively.  And believe me, it IS important.  I know a lot of you will read this and think “well, I don’t do anything online that would get me into trouble”.  I guess that may be true if the only sites you visit are top sites like Amazon, Ebay, etc.  But chances are you like everyone else and do web searches to answer questions or find out information about products.

And that’s where you can get yourself into trouble.  You don’t know what’s on the other end when you click that link in your favorite search engine.  That site, knowingly or not could be infected with all kinds of nasty viruses that can find their way onto your system.

Another simple way to get spyware or malware installed on your computer is by downloading software.  Most web-savvy people know better than to download software that isn’t from a trusted site like Cnet.  But did you realize that even software downloaded from trusted sites often contains other programs like search toolbars and shopping programs that hijack your clicks?  The reason being is that many of these programs you download are free from the author.  And yet the author wants or needs (understandably) to make some money from their efforts, so they add these third party programs in during the installation process and from those they make some income.

I’d personally rather pay an author $5 or $10 for a little app that will make my life easier than to have this spyware garbage added to my computer.  But more often than not, they don’t give you that option – they know that most people won’t pay them money and many people won’t notice or care that they added unwanted software into their system.

The good news is, that nine times out of ten in these situations, it is easy to not install this extra software.  And this is how you do it:  Almost all install apps have an ‘express’ install or a ‘custom’ install.  All install apps like this will always default to ‘express’.  This is often easier because you don’t have to answer extra questions.  BUT by choosing ‘express’ you are bypassing the install program asking you about installing these extra pieces of software.  Just choose ‘custom install’ and when it prompts you about installing something that has nothing to do with the program you are trying to install, just say no to that part of the installation.  Simple.  Then just carry on and the program you wanted in the first place will be installed without all the extra garbage.  I’ve had programs in the past that wanted to install up to three and four extra spyware programs!  So be careful, but it is pretty simple to catch.

In my next article, I will be talking about using a VPN or Virtual Private Network to enhance your online security.  Until then, thanks for visiting and have a great day!

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