Microsoft Fights Spyware
by Arie Slob
Hello Windows users,
Deceptive software, commonly known under the term "Spyware" have long been a problem for computer users. Deceptive software include programs which change your browsers home page without your permission, generate random pop up advertisements, or in some cases dial toll numbers, running up your telephone bill.
These programs have a number of (sneaky) ways to get into your computer. A common used "trick" these days is that this software is covertly installed during the installation of other software, such as file sharing programs, or downloaded via unsolicited junk e-mail.
According to Microsoft's Brian Arbogast, corporate vice president of the Identity, Mobile and Partner Services Group within Microsoft's MSN and Personal Services Division, deceptive software causes more than 50 percent of Windows operating systems failures reported to Microsoft, though rarely do people realize the cause of their problem. Microsoft collects the data electronically from the PCs of users of Windows who agree to share data about their system problems.
At a day-long Federal Trade Commission workshop Monday to increase understanding about deceptive software, Microsoft and other industry leaders detailed for U.S. regulators how they are working to reduce the threat of so-called "spyware."
Microsoft has launched a new informational Website to educate users, and pointed out enhancements in the Microsoft Windows XP operating system that are designed to provide people better control of their PCs.
Windows XP Service Pack 2 (which is expected to be released this June), includes a pop-up ad blocker for Internet Explorer, which also includes new technology that will suppress unsolicited software downloads, and tools to view & control browser add-on programs.
Microsoft's new anti-Spyware Web site lists 5 steps you can take to avoid Spyware:
- Choose an appropriate Web browser security setting
- Don't accept downloads from strangers
- Look for signs of deceptive software on your computer
- Detecting and removing unwanted software
- Keep Windows up to date
The FTC issued a consumer warning last year about deceptive software, but lawmakers in three states and in the U.S. Senate want to take firmer action. Utah has already adopted a law regulating spyware and other malicious programs. Lawmakers in California and Iowa are considering doing the same.
Microsoft and other industry leaders said they are committed to working with lawmakers to stop the distribution of deceptive software. But some noted that the new and proposed laws wouldn't affect many of the most pernicious distributors of deceptive software because they are located outside the United States.
Civil liberties advocates such as the non-profit Center for Democracy and Technology also are reluctant to enact new laws. They support the increased enforcement of current laws, which they say are sufficient to prosecute the distributors of the most egregious spyware and other malicious programs.
On our WindowsBBS.com support forums we have an area dedicated to Security/Virus/Spyware, so if you have any questions/problems, you can always post there and get (free) help.
Note: Software distributed by our Rose City Software Web site does not contain any deceptive ("Spyware") software. (Windows-Help.NET and Rose City Software are divisions of InfiniSource, Inc.)
According to Tom Liston of SANS Institute, public exploits, which are often the precursors to widespread worm attacks, have appeared in the last week for several of the vulnerabilities that Microsoft unveiled and patched last week.
Microsoft have updated their TechNet Security Web site to indicate that code is available on the Internet that seeks to exploit issues addressed in Microsoft security updates related to Security Bulletin MS04-011.
Make sure that you have patched your system! (Also check that friends & co-workers have done the same!)
Rose City Software
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