The Dark Side of the Internet
As you are undoubtedly aware, not everything that goes on online is sugar and spice. For every legitimate business there is a scam. For every useful utility there is a virus.
This special section of our website is designed to inform you of some of the most common pieces of “parasite software“, “malware”, or unsolicited commercial software, prevalent on the web today.
A program that gets installed on your computer which you never asked for, and which does something you probably don’t want it to, for someone else’s profit.
- Trackware, Tracking Cookies
- Key Loggers
- Browser Hijackers
Is your computer infected? We recommend a small program called AdAware to help detect and remove any of these malicious pieces of software on your computer.
A technology that assists in gathering information about a person or organization without their knowledge. On the Internet, “spyware is programming that is put in someone’s computer to secretly gather information about the user and relay it to advertisers or other interested parties.”
Thiefware causes visitors to certain sites to be redirected to a search engine or other web page of the author’s choosing. This practice is not illegal although it is highly unethical.
Trackware, Tracking Cookies
Trackware (a.k.a. tracking cookies or spyware cookies) is software or cookies designed to track your online behaviour and share this and other personal information with advertisers. This is quite common with advertising and affiliate programs and poses little to no risk to you, but is still a violation of your privacy. Ironically, part of what makes Amazon.com so interactive is its heavy use of Trackware. It can track what pages you click on and present dynamic content based on your behaviours.
Software that may have been installed on your computer by a remote site. Many free utilities that you download from the Internet will install hidden software that sends details of the websites you visit and other information from your computer (which can include your email address) to advertisers so they can target you with popup ads and spam.
A Keylogger (KeyLogger, Key Logger, or Keystroke Logger) is a program that runs in the background, recording all the keystrokes you make. Once logged, they are hidden in the machine for later retrieval, or shipped raw to the attacker. The attacker then peruses them carefully in the hopes of either finding passwords, credit card numbers, or possibly other useful information that could be used to compromise the system or be used in a social engineering attack. For example, a key logger will reveal the contents of all e-mail composed by the user.
Software programs devised by professional hackers to detect activity on PCs allowing the hacker to assume the user’s identity.
A trojan that may reset your browser’s home page and/or search settings to point to other sites. Such sites are sometimes pornographic sites often loaded with advertising. Browser Hijackers may prevent you from changing your browser’s homepage or from visiting particular sites or performing particular actions. They also tend to replace default web pages (e.g. Page not found) with web pages of advertisers.