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Old 11-24-2004, 11:50 PM   #1  
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Suzanne 3FC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Posts: 11,615

Default Getting a lot of popups? Got spyware? Got WHAT?

Why do you use pop advertising?
3FC is an ad supported website, so that we don't have to charge subscription fees or sell products. The advertising industry is constantly changing, and we have to go with the flow. However, we don't abuse the pop ad system and limit pops to the bare minimum. We feel that using advertising to cover expenses is a fair trade for providing this website at no cost to our visitors.

How many pops can I expect?
We limit our pops, and you usually only get 1 or 2 per day from us. We have two advertisers, one sends one pop per 24 hours, and the other sends one pop per session (visit) though they only pop for about 3/4 of our visitors. It's unlikely you would receive more than 1 or 2 pops per day from us. It may vary, but we do cap pops to the minimum.

But I get a LOT of pops!
Whenever this topic has come up in the past, the person scans their system and finds some sort of spyware, adware, etc. Those programs get installed without your knowledge, then they scan for keywords on pages you visit, and generate popups based on the content. We've even heard from a few people that had porn pops which were triggered by the 'fat chick' keywords

It's ok, I use an ad or popup blocker
*Cringe* Telling this to a website owner is the equivalent of telling a theater owner that you enjoy his business - you slip in the back door for free every Saturday. One good aspect of blockers is that you can enable specific websites so you get their ads, while blocking ads from sites that abuse the technology.

What is this 'spyware' and how would I get it?
Many programs that you install come with hidden programs that you didn't ask for. This is usually typical for free downloads, because someone has to pay for the product, right? Spyware/adware/scumware/malware comes with many free screensavers, Comet curser, toolbars such as Hotbar, Net2Phone, SaveNow, games, and even with 'reward' programs and shopping discount services. The list is seemingly endless. These programs can do serious damage to your computers, and many people have had to reformat, and have lost valuable data.

I never download anything, so I'm safe
That used to be the case, but not anymore. Drive-by installs are more and more common. This occurs just from visiting a website that runs a certain type of ad which installs programs automatically. This even happened to me not too long ago, my computer was hijacked after visting an international recipe website. It took 2 days to get rid of everything, and was a nightmarish experience.

What if I do have spyware, what can I do?
There are a lot of programs that will scan your computer for hidden programs, and remove them safely for you. However, there are also a lot of so-called spyware scanners that are scams! Some provide false positives, then tell you they will only remove them if you pay a fee. Some other programs actually install their own spyware on your computer!

We highly recommend these two free programs:

http://www.lavasoftusa.com/software/adaware/
http://www.safer-networking.org/en/download/index.html

Use both, because one may catch anything the other misses. After you install them, you should update them regularly to make sure they can find the latest buggers on your system. We personally update and scan our computers every weekend. It just takes a few minutes.

How can I prevent getting spyware in the future?
Be careful what you install. Read the fine print that appears when you go through the installation process. Sometimes you are told that you get extra goodies, though they usually word it so that you don't have a clue what is about to happen.

Get rid of Internet Explorer. Most of these programs are written to target IE since it's the most widely used browser on the planet. It's not worth their time and efforts to target smaller browsers, plus many other browsers don't have as many security holes as IE. One browser that is becoming more and more popular because it is safe, is Firefox. I've been using it ever since I was subjected to the drive-by that I mentioned above. It's fast, efficient, safe, and free.


If you must use IE, at least go to your Tools and disable ActiveX to prevent drive-by downloads.
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