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KNOWLEDGE

Post  Uchris on Mon Mar 05 2007, 02:49

Find out what specific words about Spyware and spying mean.

ActiveX

ActiveX is a Microsoft technology that allows Internet applications that are more powerful than simple scripts. ActiveX applications do work only in Internet Explorer, so the use of ActiveX on websites is not recommended. Due to the huge amount of influence ActiveX apps can have on the system (ActiveX apps have access to the same files you have access to, meaning all files in the case of most private computers), it is recommended to be very careful if dealing with ActiveX.

There are two types of ActiveX apps - signed and unsigned. The code of unsigned ActiveX apps hasn't been certified and should never be trusted. Signed ActiveX apps are certified, but can still contain malicious code! Signed ActiveX apps should be trusted only if coming from trusted websites and only on a prompt base (meaning that IE settings will ask every time a website wants to load an ActiveX app).

Many dialers and hijackers http://www.safer-networking.org/en/dictionary/hijacker.html install themselves using ActiveX applications.

BHO, Browser Helper Object

Also called BHO. A BHO is a small program that extends Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Examples of BHO usage include visible add-on toolbars in IE, but can also be hidden functions. Ad- and spyware as well as browser hijackers often use BHOs to display ads or follow your moves across the internet, because a BHO has access to each URL you visit and can redirect you or display other pages than you requested (ads, for example). BHOs often use ActiveX installation programs.

Dialer

A dialer is a very small program, often installed using the ActiveX technology. Dialers often promise access to free porn, free games or free cracks for commercial software. Once installed, a dialer offers to use your dial-up device to call in to the service, usually calling a quite expensive toll number. Some dialers explain the costs of the connection they will be making, like it is required by local law in some countries, but many dialers just display a button offering to connect, without informing the user of what is happening behind it. In the worst case, the dialer sets up the expensive number as the default Internet connection, meaning the user will have to pay high rates for being online, without even knowing it until receiving the next bill.

Firewall

A firewall is basically some kind of software or hardware that controls data transfers. The typical use of a firewall would be to secure the access a computer or a network of computers to another network (which may even be the internet). A hardware firewall is simply a box that is put between the local and the far network and that allows or denies transfers based on predefined rules; a software firewall is a software installed on a computer and basically does the same. It has the advantage that it can also set rules based on the software that is doing the transfer, but the disadvantage that it depends on how wise the user uses it.

Browser hijacker

A browser hijacker is a small program or registry setting that is responsible for changed IE start and search pages. If your browser starts with a different start page (one you haven't changed yourself), you most probably got hijacked. Intelligent hijackers do not only change these pages, but also add a small file that will restore the hijacked settings upon each system start. Hijackers often use ActiveX installation programs and/or security holes.

Hosts file

The hosts file could be described as an address book. While the normal user is used to access other computers on the internet using names (for example security.kolla.de), every computer is accessed by a numeric address at a lower level. You may already have seen this numeric addresses; they look like 127.0.0.1 for example.

Every time you try to access another computer by using his name, your computer looks up his address in an address book. First it looks into a local address book (the hosts file), and only if it can't find the address there it looks in a very big address book in the internet.

So if you want to block an internet website, you could simply redirect this sites name to a place where nothing will be delivered from. Such a place would be your computer for example. The address I already mentioned, 127.0.0.1 is an address that will always point to the local - your - computer. By adding an entry to the hosts file (your local address book) that redirects an ad site to your machine, you would trick your internet browser to think that ad site would be on your machine, and as your machine doesn't deliver ads, it wouldn'get the ad and it will not be displayed.

Another way of using the hosts file is if you want to access computers that are not listed in any address book yet. For example if you have a local network, you wouldn't list your local computers in any internet address book, if only because that would be very expensive. So you could just enter them into the local address book (your hosts file).

Java applet

A Java applet is capable of doing more than just a JavaScript, but hasn't got the full access to your machine like a full Java application.
An applet still needs the browser to be run in, while a full Java application could run stand-alone (using just the runtime engine).

Java script

A Java script is a very small program that is running on your computer when visiting websites that have defined such a script.
Java scripts have little access to your computer, but can modify your browser.

Keylogger

The name keylogger was defined back in old DOS times, where computers where handled just by using a keyboard. The most basic keyloggers back from that time just log the keys you press. The spy, a person with physical access to your machine, could get that log at a later point and see everything you typed.

Modern keyloggers are much improved. They do not only log the keys you press, but make also screenshots to show the spy what Windows you are working with, the capture information about your internet use, and much more. The spy doesn't even need physical access to your machine because many current keyloggers send their logs by mail.

LSP, Layered Service Provider

A Layered Service Provider is a system driver linked deep into the networking services of Windows. It has access to every data entering and leaving the computer, as was as the ability to modify this data. A few such LSPs are necessary to allow Windows to connect you to other computers, including the Internet. But Spyware may also install itself as an LSP, thus having access to all the data you transmit. LSP are currently used by CommonName, New.Net, NewtonKnows and webHancer.

Passwords

You surely know what a password is. When accessing private data on a protected system, you need a password (sometimes also called passphrase) and most often an username to tell the system your identity.

Most things about passwords have already been said, but some things can't be repeated to often.

1. Do not tell your passwords anyone. If you are asked by anyone to tell them your password, say no. There is simply no reason. If sometime tells you he is an admin and needs to know your password, he lies.

2. When choosing your password, don't choose something that others could simply guess. Don't use the name of your spouse or cat, or the company name printed on your computer or monitor. While the best thing would be a random string of characters and numbers and even special characters, if you really need something that is easy to remember, take parts of words and combine them into something that you can still speak, but that gives no sense. Attach a few numbers to it to be on the saver side.

3. Don't write your password down on a sticky attached to your screen, or anywhere on your workspace. If you need to write it down, put the paper with it into your wallet, but never anywhere the computer.

4. Don't save a file with all your passwords on your computer. If you can't remember them all, write them down. If you really want to save them in a file, encrypt that file.

Registry

The registry could be described as some kind of a database, located on your computer, that stores most configuration data (beginning from low-level configurations like which drivers for which graphics card are to be loaded up to program-specific configurations like which start page Internet Explorer should display).
The registry is hierarchically structured, meaning it is build like a tree.

If you want to have a look at your registry, you can do so by typing regedit at a command prompt. But be warned: do not change anything until you feel very comfortable with the registry contents!

Scripts

Scripts are the small brothers of real applications. Many big software packages (Windows itself and most Office packages, for example) allow you to control them by using scripts. These scripts contain commands specific to the application you want to control, for example to tell a spreadsheet application to take the values from every third row, sum them up and make a graphic out of that.

Skins

Skins are files that allow you to change the appearance of Spybot-S&D. These appearance changes are mostly color changes, so you could also call them Color Schemese instead of Skins.

Spyware

What is spyware? In easy terms, spyware is software that transmits personally identifiable information from your computer to some place in the internet without your special knowledge.

Spyware is typically not the product you install itself, but small add-ons, that you may or may not disable during install. In most cases, the EULA somewhere has a few lines telling you about privacy matters, but typically most users donét read the complete EULA and never know they got spyware on their system.

A less threatening sort is adware. Adware is similar to spyware, but does not transmit personally identifiable information, or at least the collector promises not to sell it. Instead, aggregated usage information is collected.

Adware is also often a side-effect of spyware, as both monitor you for a sole purpose ľ delivering you advertisement that is especially tailored to your habits.

Another kind that is detected under the spyware category are tracking cookies. Cookies are used all over the internet in useful and less useful places. Advertisement companies often set cookies whenever your browser loads a banner from them. In that case and if that cookie contains a GUID, the company gets notice about every site you visit that contains their ads.

Trojan horse

Even though a trojan horse is sometimes also called Trojan, it's more a Greek. The Greeks build the so-called 'trojan horse' in the fight about Troja to get into the town, so they are the real snoops Wink

A trojan is a program that has gotten onto your machine without your knowledge and contains malicious code, that would for example allows persons using another computer to connect to yours over a network. Typical trojans are open to anyone trying to connect (any person on your local network or even the internet). Special trojans are designed to make you machine accessible just to the person who infected your computer with the trojan.

The access an outsider can gain using a trojan on your machine can be nearly anything. From watching all your behaviour (like a keylogger) to manipulating your computer to basically doing anything you can also do using your keyboard and mouse.

Your computer can get infected with a trojan by multiple ways. A person with physical access to your machine can place it there, but you can also accidentally install it yourself by opening an unknown email attachment that by chance contains a trojan.

According to some definitions, trojans are also programs that sneak into other programs, for example to gain access. As these programs are used consciously by the other, they are not trojans, but are backdoors.

Usage tracks

Usage tracks are your fingerprints in your system. Whenever you visit a page with your browser, or just open any file, that information is stored deep inside Windows. In most cases that is very useful ľ if you want to open that file again, you can select it from a list instead of typing the whole filename or browsing the whole directory structure again.

But in some cases you may want to hide your activity, because spyware and internet attackers may use that information. Spybot-Search&Destroy can remove some of the most important and common tracks on your system.
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Uchris

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