Recently, while checking our company web site statistics, we noticed a number of referrals from gambling and pornography sites. Since we are certain these types of sites would not house links to us, we investigated further and determined that some of our faithful visitors may be the victims of adware or spyware.
What is adware?
Adware, in it's most sinister incarnation, is a program that runs on your computer (like a virus) and occassionally pops up ads or redirects your browser to websites you had not chosen to visit.
What is spyware?
Spyware is software that collects personal information from you without your knowledge or permission. The information spyware collects can range from all the web sites you visit to sensitive information including user names and passwords.
How can I make sure I don't get these on my computer?
* Never download programs or files from a website you don't know and trust. * Never open email attachments unless you know what they are. If you receive an email from a friend, but the text is strange and you don't know what the attachment is do not open it. Write to your friend and make sure they sent the email. * Keep an antivirus program running on your computer at all times. You may also want to download Microsoft's Spyware program which can be found free here: http://www.microsoft.com/ More comprehensive articles on adware and spyware may be found here:
An authority on integrated web databases, Amanda Huber is co-owner of Vulcan Creative Labs, LLC (www.vulcancreative.com) and DeadFred.com, an online genealogy photo archive. She occasionally contributes articles for Dead Fred's e-newsletter Relatively Speaking which help genealogy researchers with more technical aspects of their online tasks.