Tools and Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

 

MALWARE INFORMATION, PREVENTION AND REMOVAL

 

What is malware?

Malware is software designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system without the owner's informed consent. Also known as malicious software.

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How serious is the malware threat?

The facts speak for themselves:

  • Nine out of 10 PCs connected to the Internet are infected with spyware.*
  • 88% of Spy Audit scans found some form of unwanted program (Trojan, system monitor, cookie or adware) on consumer computers.*
  • "About 10 million Americans have their personal information pilfered and misused in some way or another every year, costing consumers $5 billion and businesses $48 billion annually." – Federal Trade Commission, June 21, 2005
  • Some form of spyware can be found on 87% of corporate PCs.*
  • "A hacker was able to access potentially 40 million credit card numbers by infiltrating the network of a company that processed payment data for MasterCard International and other companies." InfoWorld, July 17, 2005
  • 86% U.S. adult Internet users believe that spyware on their computers has caused them to suffer a monetary loss.**

*State of Spyware Report
**eMarketer, 2005

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How does malware find me?

Even if you're careful, you can pick up malware through normal Internet activities.

  • Visit any media-supported Web site and you're bound to get a tracking cookie.
  • Share music, files or photos with other users.
  • Install software applications without fully reading license agreements.

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How can I remove malware?

First, you should use a scan program designed for malware detection to see if you're infected. Once you know your infection level, you'll be able to take back control of your computer.

Second, you can try to remove the malware manually, but removal is a difficult and complicated process for even the most experienced computer user. Without recognized, top-quality anti-malware software, malware removal will be incomplete at best.

Third, choose a malware protection solution. A complete anti-malware software package includes anti-spyware software and anti-virus protection and should be fortified with a firewall. Look for these qualities when selecting an anti-malware software solution:

  • Provides frequent version and definition updates to combat the latest threats.
  • Consistently wins awards from industry-leading publications.
  • Has a dedicated, round-the-clock research team devoted to keeping track of malware evolution.
  • Is backed by an innovative company with a solid business reputation.

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How can I prevent malware infection?

  • Just say "No!" to free software.
  • Increase your browser security settings.
  • Update your security patches regularly.
  • Avoid questionable Web sites.
  • Be suspicious of email and IM.
  • Use public or multiple-user computers with extreme caution.
  • Beware of peer-to-peer file sharing services.
  • Use a firewall.
  • Use anti-virus protection.
  • Use the Mozilla Firefox browser.
  • Use a good anti-spyware product, not a free one.

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Why do I need anti-malware protection?

If you use a computer, you're susceptible to malware infection. In fact, nine out of 10 Internet-connected PCs are infected with spyware that can:

  • Open your PC to identity theft.
  • Expose your personal information and private accounts.
  • Corrupt your hard drive.
  • Share your passwords and user names.

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Why can't free applications protect me from malware?

Technically, free applications lack the capabilities to remove malicious, complex malware. They also are not backed by the resources available to track and eradicate the latest malware threats. Malware is growing relentlessly more sophisticated. Free applications just can't keep up.

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What should I look for in anti-malware software?


  • Regular definition updates
  • Refined malware detection
  • Proactive protection
  • Designated threat research team
  • Customer service
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Stable company to back up the software

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How can I spot a legitimate anti-malware program?

There are several easy ways to tell the difference between legitimate programs and rogue applications:

  • Trustworthy anti-malware programs do not advertise in pop-up ads or on questionable Web sites, such as gambling or pornographic sites.
  • Any security application that appears on your machine that you did not knowingly download or install is questionable, and is likely an illegitimate program.
  • The program’s scan results should tip you off. Rogue anti-spyware programs will report legitimate files and processes as spyware to scare you into thinking that you have several spies on your PC.
  • Enter the product’s name in your favorite search engine, if results such as “Remove product name” appear, it is probably a questionable application.

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Why is Webroot the right choice?

With more awards than any other anti-spyware program (45 and counting), Spy Sweeper is recommended more than any other anti-spyware product. Here's why:

  • Most technologically advanced spyware research system in the world
  • Detects, removes and blocks all forms of spyware, including keyloggers, Trojan horses, system monitors and more - with just one fast sweep of your PC
  • Easy-to-use features ensure your maximum protection
  • FREE world-class customer support
  • 100% Guaranteed - if you're not satisfied

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What is adware?

Adware is any software application that has the ability to display advertisements on your computer. Some adware can track your surfing habits to display targeted promotions on your Web browser in the form of pop-up, pop-under and banner ads.

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How does adware work?

Adware watches as you surf the Internet to collect information about your behavior. Then adware disrupts your browsing by popping up context-related promotions right on top of your screen, causing you to second guess your next online move.  Adware runs quietly in the background of your computer, observing your every move. It logs your online activities and personal information to create a user profile and sends it to a data collection site. From there, your data is used to evaluate your surfing habits and send you targeted advertising.

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What are the symptoms of an adware infection?

Your PC may be infected with adware if you experience these symptoms:

  • Sluggish PC performance
  • An increase in pop-up, pop-under or banner ads
  • Frequent computer crashes
  • Puzzling search results

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How does adware find me?

In general, adware is attached to an intentionally installed program. Freeware is one of the most common ways adware is installed on a machine. Installers of freeware unwittingly sign up for an infinite supply of pop-up ads. Examples of freeware that may deliver adware are:

  • A better, more advanced search engine
  • Unusual mouse pointers
  • Instant news or weather updates
  • Computer games
  • Applications boasting to improve efficiency of your computer
  • File sharing resources for digital photos or music
  • Emoticons, little smileys or other facial expressions used in email

Peer-to-peer groups are notorious for attaching adware to their file sharing programs. Sharing your information with interested companies is an easy way for developers to make money. You pay by receiving a relentless bombardment of pop-up ads.

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How do I remove adware?

First, you should use a spy scan program designed for spyware detection to see if you're infected. Once you know your infection level, you'll be able to take back control of your computer.

Second, you can try to remove the spyware manually, but removal is a difficult and complicated process for even the most experienced computer user. Without recognized, top-quality anti-spyware software, spyware removal will be incomplete at best.

Third, choose a spyware protection solution. A complete anti-spyware software package includes anti-spyware software, anti-virus protection and a firewall. Look for these qualities when selecting an anti-spyware software solution:

  • Provides frequent version and definition updates to combat the latest threats. 
  • Consistently wins awards from industry-leading publications.
  • Has a dedicated, round-the-clock research team devoted to tracking spyware evolution.
  • Is backed by an innovative company with a solid business reputation.

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SYMPTOMS OF COMPROMISED COMPUTER SECURITY

 

What is credit card fraud?

When credit card fraud occurs, a merchant (business, service provider, seller, etc.) is tricked into releasing merchandise or rendering services, believing that a credit card account will provide payment for goods or services. The merchant later learns they will not be paid, or that the payment they received will be reclaimed by the card's issuing bank. A fraudulent or stolen credit card is charged for a purchase. Today, half of all credit card fraud is conducted online using spyware.

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How can I prevent credit card fraud?

Proactively preventing the harm spyware can do to you and your computer is vastly less expensive than paying to restore your credit, your identity and your computer. Here are a few things you can do right away to prevent credit card fraud:

  • Use varied and complex passwords for all your accounts.
  • Continually check the accuracy of personal documents and deal with any discrepancies right away.
  • Only provide personal information on sites that have "https" in the web address or have a lock icon at bottom of the browser.
  • Do not provide personal information to any unsolicited requests for information
  • Avoid questionable Web sites.
  • Practice safe email protocol:
  • Don't open messages from unknown senders.
  • Immediately delete messages you suspect to be spam.
  • Avoid free software and file-sharing applications.
  • Use anti-virus protection and a firewall.
  • Get anti-spyware software protection.

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What is a hijacked homepage?

Browser hijacker spyware resets your homepage so each time you launch your browser you land on the site it wants you to. Fraudsters use this method to force hits to their websites, since most sites have ads. More hits means higher costs for advertising, and ultimately more money for the spyware-toting villain. Browser hijackers are more than just annoying:  The spyware they carry can cause irreparable damage to your files and programs as well as jeopardize your personal information and identity.

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How can I prevent hijacked homepages?

There are a few simple things you can do right away to help prevent further spyware infection and reclaim your homepage:

  • Update your operating system regularly.
  • Avoid questionable Web sites.
  • Practice safe email protocol:
  • Don't open messages from unknown senders.
  • Immediately delete messages you suspect to be spam.
  • Avoid free software and file-sharing applications.
  • Use anti-virus protection and a firewall.
  • Get anti-spyware software protection.

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What is identity theft?

Identity theft is the criminal abuse of consumers' personal identifiers. The main concern for consumers is financial crimes exploiting their credit worthiness to commit loan fraud, mortgage fraud, lines-of-credit fraud, credit card fraud, commodities and services frauds. Many people associate identity theft with having a wallet or purse stolen. But your your computer is fast becoming the most likely place where your identity can be stolen.

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How can I prevent identity theft?

Spyware used for identity theft can be the most harmful and difficult to remove of any type of spyware. There are a few things you can do right away to protect yourself:

  • Continually check the accuracy of personal documents and deal with any discrepancies right away.
  • Avoid questionable Web sites.
  • Practice safe email protocol:
  • Don't open messages from unknown senders.
  • Immediately delete messages you suspect to be spam.
  • Avoid free software.
  • Get the latest Windows® patches.
  • Use public computers with extreme caution.
  • Beware of peer-to-peer file sharing services.
  • Use anti-virus protection and a firewall.
  • Get anti-spyware software protection.

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What are PC crashes?

Computer crashes happen when a program (either an application or part of the operating system) stops performing its expected function and stops responding to other parts of the system. Often the offending program may simply appear to freeze. If your computer shuts down frequently, detect spyware. Malicious threats may be at work, tracking your activities and stealing personal information.

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How can I prevent PC crashes?

There are a few simple things you can do right away to help prevent further spyware infection and stop frequent computer crashes:

  • Update your operating system regularly.
  • Avoid questionable Web sites.
  • Practice safe email protocol:
  • Don't open messages from unknown senders.
  • Immediately delete messages you suspect to be spam.
  • Avoid free software and file-sharing applications.
  • Use anti-virus protection and a firewall.
  • Get anti-spyware software protection.

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What are pop-ups?

Pop-ups are a form of online advertising intended to increase Web traffic or capture email addresses. These online ads come in many forms, but generally they want to sell you something. While many pop-up ads from reputable companies are harmless, the adware programs that generate illegitimate pop-ups are capable of installing spyware to hijack your browser and capture your personal information.

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How can I prevent pop-ups and the damage they can cause?

There are a few simple things you can do right away to prevent further spyware infection and avoid pop-ups.

  • Avoid clicking on pop-ups, even to close them. Instead, close pop-ups from the system tray area with a right mouse click.
  • Update your operating system regularly.
  • Increase your browser security settings.
  • Avoid questionable Web sites.
  • Only download software from sites you trust.
  • Practice safe email protocol.
  • Don’t open messages from unknown senders.
  • Immediately delete messages you suspect may be spam.
  • Avoid free software and file-sharing applications.
  • Use anti-virus protection a firewall.
  • Get anti-spyware software protection.

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Why is my PC slow?

Sluggish performance of vital computer programs, like your operating system or Internet browser, is usually caused by spyware infection that consumes a substantial amount of computer memory, leaving limited resources for other legitimate programs to use.

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How can I prevent a slow PC?

There are a few simple things you can do right away to prevent further spyware infection and speed your PC performance.

  • Update your operating system regularly.
  • Increase your browser security settings.
  • Avoid questionable Web sites.
  • Only download software from sites you trust.
  • Practice safe email protocol.
  • Don’t open messages from unknown senders.
  • Immediately delete messages you suspect may be spam.
  • Avoid free software and file-sharing applications.
  • Use anti-virus protection a firewall.
  • Get anti-spyware software protection.

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THREATS TO COMPUTER SECURITY

 

What is spam?

Spam is unsolicited commercial email. It's sent, usually in bulk, through "open-relays" to millions of people. Spam is cost-shifted advertising. It takes a toll on Internet users' time, their resources, and the resources of Internet Service Providers (ISP). Most recently, spammers have begun to send advertisements via text message to cell phones.

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How can I prevent spam?

To prevent spam, use a spam filter or gateway to scan inbound messages. One simple way you can prevent spam damage is to practice safe email protocol:

  • Don't open email or text messages from unknown senders.
  • Immediately delete message you suspect are spam.
  • Avoid get rich quick offers, porn or too-good-to-be-true messages.

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What is a computer virus?

Think of a biological virus – the kind that makes you sick. It’s persistently nasty, keeps you from functioning normally and often requires something powerful to get rid of it. A computer virus delivered over the Internet is very similar. Designed to relentlessly replicate, viruses infect your computer programs and files, alter the way your computer operates or stop it from working altogether.

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How can I prevent computer viruses?

Take these steps to fortify your computer security against viruses right away:

  • Use anti virus protection and a firewall.
  • Update your operating system regularly.
  • Increase your browser security settings.
  • Avoid questionable Web sites.
  • Only download software from sites you trust.
  • Practice safe email protocol:
  • Don't open messages from unknown senders.
  • Immediately delete messages you suspect to be spam.
  • Avoid free software and file-sharing applications.
  • Get anti-spyware software protection.

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What is phishing?

Phishing is an online con game played by tech-savvy con artists and identify thieves. They use spam, malicious Web sites, email and instant messages to trick you into divulging sensitive information, like bank account passwords and credit card numbers.

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How can I prevent phishing?

Take these steps to fortify you computer security against phishing scams right away:

  • Do not provide personal information to any unsolicited requests for information.
  • Only provide personal information on sites that have "https" in the web address or have a lock icon at bottom of the browser.
  • If you suspect you’ve received phishing bait, contact the company that is the subject of the email by phone to check that the message is legitimate.
  • Type in a trusted URL for a company's site into the address bar of your browser to bypass the link in a suspected phishing message.
  • Use varied and complex passwords for all your accounts.
  • Continually check the accuracy of personal documents and deal with any discrepancies right away.
  • Avoid questionable Web sites.
  • Practice safe email protocol:
  • Don't open messages from unknown senders.
  • Immediately delete messages you suspect to be spam.
  • Use anti virus protection and a firewall.
  • Get anti-spyware software protection.

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How are hackers and predators a threat to computer security?

People, not computers, create computer threats. Predators victimize others for their own gain. Give a predator access to the Internet – and likely to your PC -- and the threat they pose to your security increases exponentially. Hackers are programmers who break into computer systems in order to steal, change or destroy information. Their clever tactics and detailed technical knowledge help them access information you really don’t want them to have.

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How do hackers and predators find me?

Anyone who uses a computer connected to the Internet is susceptible to the threats hackers and predators pose. Hackers typically use phishing scams, spam email or instant messages and bogus Web sites to deliver spyware to your computer and compromise your computer security. Predators monitor your chat room conversations or peruse your personal Web page. Usually disguised with a bogus identity, predators can lure you into revealing sensitive personal and financial information, or much worse.

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What can I do about hackers and predators?

To combat online predators:

  • Continually check the accuracy of personal documents and deal with any discrepancies right away.
  • Use extreme caution when entering chat rooms or posting personal Web pages.
  • Limit the personal information you post on a personal Web pages.
  • Carefully monitor requests by online “friends” or acquaintances for predatory behavior.
  • Keep personal and financial information out of online conversations.
  • Use extreme caution when agreeing to meet an online “friend” or acquaintance in person.

Take these steps to fortify your computer security against hackers right away:

  • Update your operating system regularly.
  • Increase your browser security settings.
  • Avoid questionable Web sites.
  • Only download software from sites you trust.
  • Practice safe email protocol:
  • Don't open messages from unknown senders.
  • Immediately delete messages you suspect to be spam.Avoid free software and file-sharing applications.
  • Use anti-virus protection and a firewall.
  • Get anti-spyware software protection.

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What are the symptoms of malware infection?

If you use the Internet, it’s very likely some form of malware threats are already at work on your PC. Your computer may be infected if you recognize any of these symptoms:

  • Sluggish PC performance.
  • An increase in pop-up ads.
  • Mysterious new toolbars you can’t delete.
  • Unexplained changes to homepage settings.
  • Puzzling search results.
  • Unidentified toll charges on your phone bill.
  • Frequent computer crashes.

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ENSURING COMPUTER SECURITY DURING ONLINE ACTIVITIES

 

How can I safely browse the Internet?

Internet safety can be deceiving. Seemingly reputable sites may contain spyware traps, or the sites themselves may be counterfeit -- phishing sites posing as the real thing to lure you into their scams and debacles. The path away from Internet safety often begins innocently enough; however, certain sites are more prone to be a source of spyware, including:

  • Adult sites
  • File sharing sites
  • Community sites

Take these steps to fortify your Internet safety and computer security right away:

  • Avoid questionable Web sites.
  • Avoid free software and file-sharing applications.
  • Use antivirus protection and a firewall.
  • Update your operating system regularly.
  • Increase your browser security settings.
  • Type in a trusted URL for a company's site into the address bar of your browser to bypass links in an email or instant message.
  • Only download software from sites you trust.
  • Get anti-spyware software protection.

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How can I safely email and IM?

Take these steps to fortify your email security and instant messaging security right away:

  • Don't open email or text messages from unknown senders.
  • Immediately delete message you suspect are spam.
  • Avoid get rich quick offers, porn or too-good-to-be-true messages.
  • Do not provide personal information to any unsolicited requests for information.
  • Use anti virus protection and a firewall.
  • Update your operating system regularly.
  • Increase your browser security settings.
  • Avoid questionable Web sites.
  • Only download software from sites you trust.
  • Avoid free software and file-sharing applications.
  • Get anti-spyware software protection.

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How can I practice safe file sharing?

There’s really no two-ways about it: safe file sharing is next to impossible. There are reputable sites that offer spy-free freeware but it’s difficult to investigate every free program to distinguish between the good and bad. Take these steps to fortify your computer security right away:

  • Avoid questionable Web sites.
  • Only download software from sites you trust.
  • Pay careful attention to what you’re downloading and know what other programs you’ve agreed to along with the original file. 
  • The next time you’re redirected to a site that tempts you to install a search toolbar, screen saver, smiley faces or cute cursors, think twice. 
  • Beware of peer-to-peer file sharing services or avoid them all together. 
  • P2P network clients often load spyware onto your PC when you sign up for their service. 
  • The files you swap and share (photos, music, videos or games) may contain malicious programs. 
  • Use anti virus protection and a firewall.
  • Update your operating system regularly.
  • Increase your browser security settings.
  • Get anti-spyware software protection.

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