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Old 05-04-2005, 08:41 AM
Craig Walters's Avatar
Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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gary is correct. hijackthis can remove registry entries which may be critical to your system. however, it does have a feature to back those items up before removal, allowing you to restore them if needed.

also, hijackthis was developed primarily as an aid to those whose browser had been 'hijacked'. hijacking is the action of altering one's browser settings and parameters by a thrid party with such things as changing your home page, changing your preferred search engine, embedding 'call home' devices such as dialers (and others), and a number of other unwanted programs and devices. thus the name 'HijackThis' (it's one word in this case; no space between hijack and this).

it's an excellent program for what it's designed to do, but it is powerful and a bit dangerous in that you can mess some things up on your system. i've never seen it completely render a system inoperable, but it could conceivably screw up your browser pretty badly.

the latest version also comes with a couple other security features. i highly recommend this program. i forget whether there is a 'pro' version or not. i'm currently using just the free, unregistered version, and would not run any system i own without it.

also, while still on the subject of security and browsers, it's a good idea to set certain functions of your browser to something other than 'enable'. things like active x and scripts are a bit of a security risk. set them to at least 'prompt' in your options/preferences lists, which will force the browser to offer you a choice when a website wants to install a script or active x app. cookies can also be used to track information and i tend to set these to 'prompt' also. the newest browsers have very good cookie handling routines. mozilla, for example, will allow you to set certain sites as 'always allow cookies from this site' or 'never allow', thus giving you tailoring abilities when you trust or dont trust certain sites.

zone alarm can also be used for anti-malware. not only does it block unwanted incoming garbage, but it also detects outgoing signals from your computer. thus, if you do get a 'call home' program put on your system, when the call home device attempts to call home you will alerted by zone alarm and can block it. typically, 'call home' devices are keyloggers, dialers, spyware and so on.

a keylogger registers and logs every key you hit on your keyboard. thus, if you manually enter a password, this gets logged by the keylogger and sent out on the net to the receiver somewhere and they now know your password(s).

dialers typically attempt to call out to a location which contains other malware. the dialer then attempts to download this other malware onto your machine. this other malware often contains other trojans or viruses, or means whereby an attempt is made to charge your money for something.

'spyware' can be anything from simple cookies that keep track of your password and login data for a given site, to full blown 'we want to know everything that's on your system, including passwords, credit card numbers, and other security information.

but prolly the worst offender for putting malware on your system is your email program. if you're using micosoft's outlook or outlook express in particular, you shld turn off viewing emails in html format (i seem to recall this was because of the active x feature which the html format could use). your anti-virus program shld also be set to check every incoming and outgoing email. and there are a couple other things to change as well, but i've turned all those off so long ago that i dont currently recall them all.

sadly, there are malicious people out there. it pays to be just a bit cautious.

if all of this is a bit confusing, the simple solution is get an anti-virus program and a firewall of some sort. those are just plain required any more. and as mentioned in an earlier post by someone else, even if all you have is microsoft's default firewall that comes with windows XP, use it!

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Old 05-04-2005, 10:29 AM
Gary Richardson's Avatar
Gary Richardson Gary Richardson is offline
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Hi Kraellin,

With Hijack this, you can alter more than just browser settings. Although it is rare to totally foul up your system, due to the backup system, it is still possible to not only wreck your browser, but also to affect critical systems files. As I said in my earlier post, always seek expert instruction, unless you are a very experienced operator and absolutely sure of what you're doing.

If you're using IE as your browser, it's worth installing ie-spyad, available from here
this is a programme which adds known ad and spyware distribution sites to the Restricted Sites zone of IE.

These sites are then set to max security in IE, and downloads and Active X controls are shut off if you visit them.

Also consider installing a hosts file, this puts a whole lot of known crudware sites into your hosts list, and allocates them the number also known as local host. Thereafter, if you try to go to a site that's on your list, the address found for the url you enter will be wrong, and you will not be able to go to that site.

If you are using Spybot Search and Destroy, it comes with a hosts file.
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Old 05-11-2005, 02:37 AM
Gary Richardson's Avatar
Gary Richardson Gary Richardson is offline
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For Mac users with Spyware problems (Rare but becoming more common) the only scanner I know is here
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