Protect against spyware

Frank Fiore and Jean Francois

What happens if someone downloads a piece of spyware from the Internet and it's now on your network? Well, you don't want that to happen. This tip, excerpted from InformIT, gives you some ideas on how you can try to prevent it.

The first step in protecting your network against spyware is to read the end-user license agreement (EULA) thoroughly before installing any software. We know, scrolling past the legal jargon and clicking "I Accept" is what a user normally does. But descriptions of the way the application collects data are often buried there, so take the time to read the EULA thoroughly -- even if it means asking a law student for help -- and see what data the application collects and how it uses it.

Your second step is to install a firewall. Now, a firewall won't prevent a user from unwittingly downloading a spyware application to his or her computer, but the firewall can be set to monitor what comes in and goes out of your network. If a user unknowingly installs a spyware application on his or her computer, a firewall can act as an early warning system, alerting your network director that a program inside the network is trying to reach the outside world to report information.

So what to do?

Several respected experts recommend ZoneAlarm by Zone Labs. The program is free and doesn't come with adware that reports ad views back to the company. Another recommended free program that can detect adware is Ad-aware by Lavasoft. Lavasoft also detects cookies from banner ads serving companies such as DoubleClick.

Finally, install programs that prevent unauthorized programs from communicating with the Internet. Two such programs are PestPatrol and LeakTest. Any malicious program could give itself the name of a trusted program to gain access to the Internet. LeakTest demonstrates and tests for this "masquerading" vulnerability. PestPatrol is a powerful antihacker utility that finds and eliminates hacker tools, spyware and Trojans from your PC or corporate network.

To read the article from which this tip is excerpted, click over to InformIT. You'll have to register there to get the article, but the registration is free.

This was first published in July 2002

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