Spyware is designed to collect and use information about anyone using the computer it is installed on. It watches what sites you visit and where you shop on the Internet in order to create a marketing profile. It is usually combined (called: bundled) w/ another program that you have downloaded. Commonname.com (CN) is considered a piece of spyware. It takes everything you type while you are using the browser and sends it to their website server.
Credit Card Info:
For those who are concerned about internet security, you should be aware that some spyware is sending everything you type in the most easily readable form called: clear text! Some spyware can even capture your credit card information and that information gets stored on their server. If that isn't bad enough, anyone between your computer and them can also read and capture your personal information.
If you're not concerned about security, let's talk about performance. If the web pages you and a million other people are browsing has to go through this one server (Commonname.com for example), it may slow down the performance of your PC. It can come from the installation of several programs; the most popular are KaZaA, and iMesh.
KaZaA and iMesh:
Why do you think their programs are free? It always comes back to money! CN will resell the information it gets from you, to someone else. Here's a short list of other programs w/ spyware-KaZaA, Limewire, Audiogalaxy, Imesh, Morpheus, Xolox, Grokster
When you go to a site that requires you to register in order to use their service these can potentially be spyware sites. Sometimes these types of websites/programs don't show on a "spyware" list because they notified you via the policy statement that it's going to be collecting information. You agreed to this when you registered. If you look closely to the disclaimers and registration information they will include wording such as, "...These applications may deliver advertisements, collect information, overlay content or graphics...or modify your system settings." This is a quote from the download area of the KaZaA website. For searching for Internet we recommend a site like Google.com for limiting your spyware exposure.
We recently installed a program called Ad-aware on the computers in the labs that has helped us to remove spyware from the computers. There are hundreds of different types of spyware, some MUCH worse that Commonname.com. Ad-aware is helping us to keep the student PCs clean.
Computing Services is now blocking the CN site, in the student labs and on all employee PCs, as of Wednesday October 23rd. If you have a problem with a machine, related to CN, spyware or anything else, please feel free to give a call at x7741.
Spyware Removal and Spyware Informative Websites
Ad-aware - a spyware removal tool:
Ad-aware is a totally free program which scans your memory, registry, and disk drives for known adware and spyware. You can also choose to have Ad-aware remove any that it finds. I strongly suggest you download and use it regularly. You may be surprised at the nasties it finds. ASU currently has the licensing to load Ad-aware on all our PCs. It can be downloaded at: www.lavasoftusa.com or call Computing Services at x7741 for assistance.
Spybot - a spyware removal tool
Works like Ad-aware and is also free. Can be downloaded from their website at: http://security.kolla.de/
It's also helpful to keep your machine up to date. To update -select "Windows Update" in your Internet Explorer browser.
Spychecker maintains a database of known spyware. You can search from the site or use their small program to see if a program you want to download contains spyware. They update the database daily. (Windows) . SpywareInfo (spychecker.com) SpywareInfo has a large array of resources to help you keep your computer free of spyware and most of them are free.
Some spyware prevention software is from us. Please call x7741.
KaZaA Lite, RollingStone.com, Amazon.com; MP3.com, Shareaza, Blubster, Farmclub.com, LiquidAudio.com.
* this list is as of the writing of this flyer 10/15/02. Go to spychecker.com to verify any program/site.
Some of the information listed above is from the website "About.com" in their -Computer Security Freebies http://freebies.about.com/cs/securityfreebies/