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Spyware

Mark Edwards
23-01-2005

Late last year, I was thinking how slow my internet connection was in finding new websites. It was not something that had happened suddenly but I was noticing an appreciable delay of sometimes several seconds.



My first thought was Internet congestion or a problem at my ISP.



In December, I had to renew the subscription for my firewall software. As part of this process I was offered the option to buy a spyware cleaning product. This is something I have always meant to do but have never made the time to. I thought that if I had a problem with spyware, it was probably minor and not worth worrying much about.



The company was quite clever in the way they sold the product. They offered a free scan of your computer through their website. This identified, in my case, about 125 items of spyware. There was a delete button which I pressed only to be told that the delete option came with the paid version.



Needless to say, I paid and installed it immediately, ran the scan again, and deleted all of the found items.



The next time I opened my browser, the delay in reaching new sites was gone. They appeared almost instantaneously. All of this spyware had been slowing down my browsing without me even realising.



This experience is pretty embarrassing for someone in the IT industry however it highlights two issues with spyware.



One, it is a problem which builds over time and leads you to dismiss it and blame other things.



Two, it is a problem which you think does not really apply to you.



The second is the more critical of the two problems. This is the kind of thinking that leads to you catching a virus or having your identity stolen. If it can happen to me then, most assuredly, it can happen to you.

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