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Online Casinos Article

Stop spyware

Published on April 29th, 2005 by SortOnlineCasinos.com Editor

I must admit it's an article a bit off topic, but this is a very important issue that concerns particularly the online gambling industry. The new kind of viruses is here... The spyware, called also thiefware, adware, scumware or parasiteware, infects your computer in the same way than a virus. This is an unethical use of the internet technology, and the problem spreads very fast on the internet network. It's time to do something, and the end-user like you is the key to resolve the problem. This article has been written to educate our visitors about their internet usage. And as always, if you need any complementary information or have questions about this article (or need help), then please contact us.

1. What is a spyware?

Be aware, your computer is looking at you...
Some computers may have dozens of spyware installed at worse even without the user knowing their presence.

Spyware is a software that a user unknowingly downloads when he wants to download intentionally another software. The most known programs are Gator, Bonzi, Kazaa, Morpheus. The spyware program is inserted on your computer as a virus. Even after removing the program, the spyware comes back to your computer, using some technical tricks that allow these programs. You then have on your computer an unsuspected program that is practically impossible to delete, invading your privacy.

2. What kind of danger they represent? What are the risks?

The spyware monitors all your internet usage. Where you go, what you buy, what are your interests... These programs are installed by companies that want to use this information for advertising purposes, to sell you their products or their partners' products. All your internet usage is transmitted to these companies. If the program is able to get your personal information and your email address, it will be also transmitted to the unscrupulous company. They don't care of your privacy. They have installed a "spy" on your computer, and are determined to use all means they have to make dollars. As a result, your computer & browser are unstable, and you receive tons of unsolicited ads when you surf, and more...

3. But there is another point: how it affects webmasters and steals their money...

The spyware also steals the work and money of webmasters and free websites, like SortOnlineCasinos.com (that's why they are also called "thiefware"). How is it possible? The answer is simple. Websites operators, like us there, build the Internet by operating websites that provide free information to visitors. Our business and unique revenue comes directly from advertising sales, allowing you to browse this website for free and all other free sites you might consult.

But a spyware can use our websites to steal our business. If the spy has found that you have an interest in online gambling (because you have visited some related sites), they will be able to launch contentious online gambling ads on all other related sites you surf, on top of them, stealing our business. There are lots of different ways on how the spyware can operate to steal. They can even modify the links (when you click on them) from this website to send you to another online casino we do not recommend or to an unscrupulous competitor's website. Just remind one thing: if you have a spyware installed on your computer, a part of the money earned from SortOnlineCasinos.com's advertising sales will be given to another company. It's just called theft.

Just look at a real example. Imagine you go to a car store, and want to buy a car from this first brand. Now imagine that an employee of a competitor's brand enters this store, and wants to sell you their cars directly in that first brand's store... Imagine how the staff will react! But on Internet, we, webmasters, can't do nothing to eject the thieves. A legal action against these companies would require a lot of money (and they are often sued by various companies, so they are prepared...). The only key, it's you!

4. How can I protect my computer?

Doxdesk.com
Doxdesk.com offers free detection of spyware that are installed as add-ons into your web browser.

If you want to protect yourself and keep a safe internet for all of us, here are the solutions:

A. Remove scripts with specific websites & programs

· Please go to this site: http://www.doxdesk.com/parasite/. It has a script that will detect if you have any spyware installed on your computer. The result of the scan will appear in the red window. Then they give you all the needed instructions to clean your computer (if any spyware is found). Doxdesk.com is also a very good source of information on the subject. If it's too much technical for you, use the second solution, just below.

· Download the new kind of anti-virus that can delete the various spyware, and keep them up to date like your anti-virus:

B. Replace the programs you use that carry spyware with safe programs
  • Roboform - Replaces Gator; free, fills in forms for you, does auto-logins for you and keeps a list, and does NOT carry any scumware with it. A wonderful program;
  • Kazaa Lite Resurrection - Replaces Kazaa (regular), Morpeus, and any music-sharing programs, and has no apparent scumware downloaded with it like the others do.
C. Visit online gambling forums discussing about spyware in the sector

We have a public forum dedicated to Scumware and Predatory Advertising where you can find links to other sites, articles, and useful information. It's interesting as we relate about spyware in the online gambling sector. We've been in active negotiations over the last few months with many online casinos to drop their scumware usage; most have, in an effort to conduct business ethically and fairly - but a few haven't.

D. Keep yourself informed about this issue

You can get more information about the developments of spyware on the Internet with these three excellent sites:

5. Thoughts about cookies and possible drawbacks when using anti-spyware tools

There are possible drawbacks about using anti-spyware tools as described above. The main point and center of discord amongst Internet professionals is what we call "cookies". Lots of anti-spyware tools delete them by default without letting the user know or prevent websites writing them on your computer. Cookies are often referred to "malicious programs", when in fact they are NOT and will NEVER be a program. Cookies are very helpful in the actual web (Web 2.0), due to the fact that they are used to personalize websites to your profiles or to your preferences, as they are a way of communication between a website offering services and your computer. A cookie is nothing more than a small file where some particular information can be stored, but they are not a program or cannot harm your computer. Given these facts, we recommend you to avoid deleting your cookies too regularly - once per month or per two months is just sufficient, and configure your anti-spyware program to do not delete them by default. I sum-up: cookies are an important mechanism for the actual web to function and should be not deleted by default. You can consult our privacy policy to learn what cookies we are using on SortOnlineCasinos.com.

As additional information about cookies, we copy below their description from the anti-spyware website Doxdesk.com (source):

"(cookies are) A state-storage mechanism built into web browsers. They are not really anything to do with unsolicited commercial software and are not covered at this site.

However, many of the anti-parasite programs also detect and remove cookies from certain advertising networks, as ‘tracking cookies’ or even ‘spyware cookies’.

There are reasons to be concerned about the ‘third-party cookies’ used by advertising networks: by identifying the viewer at every site that uses a network, they can assemble long-term web usage patterns that, with accidental or deliberate leakage of information from their member sites could also become personally identifiable.

Nonetheless, having cookies from ad networks is not a sign that a computer has been compromised, and isn’t really anything to get too worried about in itself. The problems related to cookies can be avoided by altering the built-in cookie settings available in all modern web browsers.
"

6. Final words

Spyware is an important problem on the actual web, just as email spam is still an important one. If this plague carries on, lots of quality free websites will suffer more and more from this malicious competition. That's why you should act and take measures to maintain a clean computer, to continue using the free web safely and properly while supporting it, but it is not required to have a "delete all" approach - better use a selective and comprehensive approach to keep using the wonderful features the web has to offer you, without constricting them too much with unnecessary maintenance.

This article has been last updated on June 3rd, 2008.

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