Friday, October 15, 2004

FTC Spyware consumer alert

The good news is that consumers can prevent spyware installation.

* Update your operating system and Web browser software. Your operating system (like Windows or Linux) may offer free software “patches” to close holes in the system that spyware could exploit.

* Download free software only from sites you know and trust. It can be appealing to download free software like games, peer-to-peer file-sharing programs, customized toolbars, or other programs that may change or customize the functioning of your computer. Be aware, however, that some of these free software applications bundle other software, including spyware.

* Don’t install any software without knowing exactly what it is. Take the time to read the end-user license agreement (EULA) before downloading any software. If the EULA is hard to find — or difficult to understand — think twice about installing the software.

* Minimize “drive-by” downloads. Make sure your browser security setting is high enough to detect unauthorized downloads, for example, at least the “Medium” setting for Internet Explorer. Keep your browser updated.

* Don’t click on any links within pop-up windows. If you do, you may install spyware on your computer. Instead, close pop-up windows by clicking on the “X” icon in the title bar.

* Don’t click on links in spam that claim to offer anti-spyware software. Some software offered in spam actually installs spyware.

* Install a personal firewall to stop uninvited users from accessing your computer. A firewall blocks unauthorized access to your computer and will alert you if spyware already on your computer is sending information out.

More information about protecting your computer and your personal information online

And yet, while the Internet helps make our lives richer and more convenient, it also provides a gateway to our personal information; our homes, families and worksites; our security and safety. Viruses, hackers and worms have become the stuff of headlines, with results that can range from mere headaches to complete havoc.

Use this form to submit a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Bureau of Consumer Protection about a particular company or organization.


Ted Feuerbach said...

The problem is that the FTC seems to do little to enforce the laws already in effect. I see late night infomercials that claim outrageous weight loss claims, even cancer cures. I get over 300 spam emails a day. The vast majority of their offers appear to be fraudulent. The FTC usually does nothing about these. When they do, they make them give the money back. Well, some of it anyway. Filling out a complaint form seems rather pointless.

Alice said...

I share your frustration, both on infomercials and spammers. But as the FTC has given us a tool to fight this scourge, it seems to me we should at least try it.