Spybot

This week the following question has prompted me to revise and republish an article that I printed last year as I believe that the program I recommend should still be one that all users have installed on their machine.

A question I have been asked recently about Broadband & Premium phone number pop-ups; is there anyway of telling whether a pop-up during surfing or of inadvertently wandering on to a Premium site can be avoided.The reason for me asking is of course obvious as I want to avoid the kids, Granny etc running up my phone bill unbeknown to me.This of course can happen on both broadband & Dialup connection.

Tom Blakesley, via E-mail

Before we start I think it is quite important to note that this issue would not affect broadband; there is no way that a broadband modem can ‘dial out’ as such.Although it is true that when using ADSL windows does have to create a dial up connection this is more a placebo effect to allow it to verify your user name and password – The broadband link is always active and your modem cannot dial another number; premium rate or otherwise.

The below program that I am about to recommend isn’t a solution to your problem because as far as I am aware there is no ‘one fits all’ solution to these problems caused by rogue programs although Windows XP service pack 2 does make it harder for these things to install themselves without your permission.Instead it is a utility that can be used to locate already installed programs such as these and potentially avoid your machine becoming infected in the first instance.

It has to be said that quite a common complaint submitted by readers is intrusive software which often installs itself onto their systems with no easy way to remove it; whether it dials out premium rate numbers or not.Quite often the software contains questionable content such as pornographic links and it can be quite concerning if the computer is shared with other members of the family as there is often no way to delete the links that have been created.A piece of software that I’ve always found useful in all these instances is ‘SpyBot Search & Destroy’ which can be downloaded free of charge from http://security.kolla.de

Once you’ve started the program you should scan your system for spyware & adware which takes a couple of minutes to complete and the program then displays a list of the problems that it found on your system along with the option to automatically repair them.It’s surprising how much rubbish many of you will have running in the background constantly as I keep a regularly clean out junk applications and the program managed to detect at least a dozen or so unwanted applications installed on my hard drive.By removing them you can free up valuable system resources and also make your computer slightly more pleasant to use and an important point to note is that the software does make a backup as it goes along so if you find that certain programs won’t work anymore then you can always restore your system to how it was previously.Once you’ve cleaned out all the rubbish which has then the program has the option to immunise your system which installs preventative measures to help prevent rouge software from installing itself again.

If you head to http://security.kolla.de/ then the file is 3.5Mg in size so even on a 56k connection it should only take 10 minutes or so to download and the best news is that it’s completely free of charge although the author does ask for a donation if you find it.To conclude, one of the most annoying areas of the modern Internet is the large number of programmers on the Internet who believe that it is acceptable to install useless software on to your computer without your permission and without any easy way to uninstall just so they can make some quick money.Much of this software exposes you to constant pop up advertising without your permission, tracks your browsing habits or in the case of Toms concern above it can actually end up costing you money; personally I believe that any program which tries to kerb this abuse has to be worth installing.

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

Top