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Privacy and security information for the web surfer

Security and privacy information for the web surfer.

Prepared by Jon Berg <jon.berg|a|turtlemeat.com>

Surfing internet is becoming quite risky nowadays. You often have to browse through many unwanted popup windows, decline repetitive dialers install programs, sometimes your start page is changed without your consent, or new bookmarks are added without you knowing it.

Your computer can be infected by programs called adware (unsolicited advertising), spyware (recording your surfing activity to sell your information). Those programs come from many sources, webpages can make you install them unknowingly, or popular software like Kazaa can install them onto your computer.


Very important : your hosts file can be hacked and modified
There is a way for unhonest webmasters to add popups and other nasty stuff to almost every page you visit. With the use of an exploit they can hack your computer files and modify a very important one :

- Windows 98: c:\windows\hosts
- Windows 2000: c:\winnt\system32\drivers\etc\hosts
- Windows XP: c:\windows\system32\drivers\hosts

By editing this file they can steal traffic from any site they want, they can block your access to any site, or they can add advertising (popup(s), dialers) to them. To hack your hosts file cheaters only have to have you visit their page. You don't have to click anywhere on the page, you don't have to install anything, it is a very malicious hack; you will not even notice that a flaw in your computer settings has just been exploited...

Open your hosts file (it has no extention) with notepad. It should contain only this line : localhost

If you see other domain names below it, it has been changed illegally. Just delete everything but localhost. Save the file and close it, and you should be fine again. If you are unsure, you can simply delete the file from your hard drive, it will be ok. I have heard that making your file read-only can protect you, but I am unsure.

If you really don't understand how to do this, or if you want a more advanced protection against this problem and others, read the next topic.


Free anti adware and spyware tool : Spybot, Search & Destroy
Do you have some crap toolbar installed on your explorer? Do most of the pages you visit contain annoying popups? Can't you access some of your favorite sites anymore? We have something for you, and it is totally free. It's called Spybot Search & Destroy. You will find download links from their homepage but here is a shortcut to the download link on download.com :

It is very easy of use and will remove most of the adware, spyware and dialers from your computer. It will also tell you if your hosts file has been hacked and will automatically remove invalid entries. Even if your computer is fine, I highly recommend you to download and install Spybot, because if your hosts file happens to be hacked in the future, you might not even be able to access this page again.


Free Spyware Protection Software : SpywareGuard
SpywareGuard provides a real-time protection solution against spyware. An anti-virus program scans files before you open them and prevents execution if a virus is detected. SpywareGuard does the same thing, but for spyware. And you can easily have an anti-virus program running alongside SpywareGuard.

Visit their page to find more information and download the program, for free! (donate to them if you like it)


Update your Windows system and IE browser
Cheaters use security flaws to install unwanted programs. Update your software frequently and you will be fine. We are talking about Microsoft systems and browsers because they are the target of cheaters, being the most popular.

Keep your browser up to date, visit https://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/default.asp and get the latest version and patches for MS Internet Explorer.

Go to https://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/ and download the latest upgrades and security patches for Windows systems.

If you update regularly you can really avoid a lot of surfing problems.


Tricks and Free Popups-Killer
Against popups your best and most easy to use weapon is a simple keyboard shortcut : ALT + F4. Press them simultaneously and it will immediately close the active window. You can do it fast enough to close very fast opening popups. ;-)

You might find some windows that you cannot close with AFT+F4, try another shortcut : control + w. If you still can't close them, use control + ALT + Suppr to open the task manager to select and kill the application manually.

But, if you prefer, we found that Google, the world #1 search engine has included a great popups-killer ability with its latest toolbar, Google Bar. With it you will be able to stop popups entirely, or allow popups only from specific sites (white list). Best of all, it is 100% free, and does not require any signup.

Installation is extremely easy and only takes a few seconds. go to Google Bar's Homepage and install it.And for a detailed help regarding their popups-blocker ability, just visit their page.


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