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A Day in the Life of Spies- Spyware Everywhere

by Wayne Porter

We often get asked about the most common scenarios we see in the escalating Spyware wars. Often times the stories are sad, and the consequences severe. In many of the examples below you will note a ?turn-the-tables? dynamic that illustrates the spy vs. spy arms race. Both parties always trying to gain the upper hand and technology that has them chasing in circles.

Spouse Spying on Spouse:?Primary use for your common key logger. In some instances we have actually ?witnessed? dueling spouses who both had installed key loggers on their machine to spy on each other at the same time! You can probably deduce those relationships are in trouble. Usually the spouse who installs the application first wins the spy duel because they are logging the second spyware installation. Very crafty spies actually purchase an array of anti-spyware scanners to sniff a machine out before they deploy their spy technology.

Parents Spying on Children: Probably one of the more legitimate uses for a snooping program. Parents are concerned about online safety and want to monitor their children. Our sage advice- People with common sense would never turn their children loose on the streets of a big city, why would they turn them loose without supervision on the Internet? Software is a poor replacement for parental involvement and supervision.

Boss Spying on Employees: Perhaps another legitimate use for key loggers although we feel that employers should make it very clear that computer information is logged and monitored. Lack of stringent privacy policies and corporations run the risk of litigation.

Children Spying on Parents: Believe it or not this is more common then you think. Today?s children are technologically sophisticated and key loggers can be had for free on underground sites. Also many children have access to credit cards and can easily buy digital products. One of the most common reasons children insert keyloggers on their parents machines are to intercept passwords to unlock parental controls.

Corporate Espionage: It is astounding the number of corporations who do not take corporate data theft seriously. One spyware application on a key machine can reveal a wealth of sensitive information, trade secrets and contacts. While it is not possible to catalogue every rogue application businesses should invest in anti-spyware technology. Now that spy technology is ubiquitous spies are popping up even on small to micro businesses.

Identity Thieves:A public machine is a spyware accident waiting to happen. It is trivial for an identity thief to install a rogue application on a public machine at an office store, university or public access terminal. When in doubt- don?t use them or use a mobile anti-spyware application that you can access over the Internet first. Even if you are using this it is best to play it safe and never put anything very sensitive on a public machine. There?are no 100% safe environments.

Commercial Adware / Parasitic Software: By our definition this does not fit the classic case of spyware since keystrokes and screen images are not logged. However many of these applications can log your surfing history, including sensitive URLS, and tie them back to a user ID which may or may not reveal who you are. Most of this software comes through active-x drive by installations and bundled with P2P software. This problem has reached epidemic proportions and shows no sign of slowing down.

As you can see it?s a spy happy world out there. Everyone is trying to pry your secrets away and the technology is in place to do this. We urge users to use their best line of defense- education and?technology?combined with good old common sense.

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