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February 2005

Logoff: The battle against spyware

Hi, my name's Andy, and I'm a spyware survivor. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I recently got whacked by spyware. I have no idea how it happened, but the little parasites dug deep into my Registry and eventually overran my system with pop-ups, browser redirects and God-only-knows how many bots and backdoors. It was so bad that I could barely get any work done. It's really hard to clean your system of this junk, but now that my long spyware nightmare is over, I'm glad it happened. Well, not glad exactly, but the experience was a real eye-opener. Being infected by spyware reinforces the merits of defense-in-depth security at a system level. Getting rid of it, and preventing it from coming back, requires multiple tools and techniques at different layers. In the end, I discovered that maintaining a spyware-free box requires a combination of rigorous OS updating, strict browser policies over active code, automated scanning and good ol' fashioned elbow grease. The first thing I did was perform a basic system checkup: I installed ...

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Columns in this issue