Is That Picture Worth Downloading?

Is That Picture Worth Downloading?

It’s a well known fact that downloading certain kinds of material is more dangerous than others. Outside of any possible moral, philosophical, or comfort factors, there are security reasons that make the PG-13 (and higher) side of the Internet a hotbed of potential problems for your PC.

But adult sites aren’t the only ones that get targeted. Celebrity/gossip sites, thumbnail/graphic sites, video sharing sites, and even Harry Potter related sites are all targets; often without the knowledge of the site owner.

Once installed on your machine, spyware and Trojans can track your every move. Any link you click, site you visit, or text you read. There have even been cases of spyware creators blackmailing victims they’ve been spying on in an attempt to get cash from them.

Titillating, popular, and/or well-trafficked content on the Internet is big business, and the malware developers of the world know it. Because it’s content that get a lot of eyes looking and clicks happening, the malware folks take advantage of that fact and spread their wares on sites that cater to looky-loo’s. As such, every bikini-wearing beauty, her less-clothed sisters, and other video/picture/movie websites are a possible suspect for computer infection.

So before you head to that site, click that video, or download that picture, think about what you (or rather, your PC) could catch if you do.

If you're looking for great anti-virus software that won't break the bank, try StopSign. You don't pay extra for tech support for difficult malware, and our web protection software just works. Download & install StopSign to find out why our members choose us over the other options.

Sure-Fire Ways to Keep Spyware Away.

Sure-Fire Ways to Keep Spyware Away.

Steering clear of spyware can be a difficult thing to do, especially with all the clicking you have to do just to get the information you’re looking for. A single-click here, a double-click there, lather-rinse-repeat this process for a few months and generously sprinkle that time with a few instances of drive-by downloads and a couple of missed opt-ins and before you know it your once speedy computer is slower than molasses in January.

Spyware happens, but there are things you can do to help stem the flow of it on your computer. By making a few easy-to-adopt changes to the way you browse the Internet and taking an extra minute before you download something, the tips we’ve compiled below will help you stay spyware-free.

  1. Watch where you’re browsing:

    Spyware (and malware in general) tends to get on your computer from a shady source. Staying away from untrusted or unknown websites is an easy way to fight spyware. If you need to download updates or specific software packages your best bet is to get it directly from the manufacturer’s website (i.e. go to for Adobe Acrobat updates). If you’re looking for software in general (i.e. you’re looking for DVD burning software but don’t know of a specific maker) then try a major download site like or

  2. Download with caution:

    A popular tactic with spammers is to send you to a fake website that looks like a legitimate one. Spyware makers have taken that lead and run with it for their own purposes. Stay one step ahead of them both by making sure you’re looking at, and downloading from, the site you’re actually supposed to be on. You can learn more about detecting fake websites in one of our previous blog posts.

  3. Read the Fine Print:

    There are 2 common places to look for the tell-tale signs of spyware on a website you aren’t familiar with:

    1. The download or info page:

      Some software or websites, by their very nature, need to contact the mothership every now and again. Anonymous usage statistics, passing along pertinent information such as items in a shopping cart before you purchase, and things of that nature are part and parcel of getting things done online. What you don’t want, however, is to have things like your social security number, credit card, or email address passed around without it being absolutely necessary. Entering your Visa number in a shopping cart is one thing, but there’s no real reason for that cart to ask for your SSN. Keep an eye out for oddities like that when you’re browsing, and make sure what they’re asking for makes sense.

    2. The EULA:

      “What’s a EULA”, you ask? A EULA is an acronym for “End User License Agreement”. It’s where all the technical and legal mumbo-jumbo is put in (or before) a download (or install). Most people consider reading the EULA a nuisance and click on “yes” without having read a word. Keep in mind that acceptance of the EULA is a legal agreement you’re entering into with a software vendor, and if you don’t read it you won’t know what you’re agreeing to. Give a EULA the once-over before you install anything and make sure that everything is on the up-and-up.

  4. Get protected, stay protected:

    Your antivirus software, in all likelihood, won’t do anything for you about spyware. It’ll work viruses all day long, but spyware is a different beast, and you need special antispyware software to deal with it. To make sure you’re completely protected you need to make sure your computer is protected with both antivirus and antispyware software. The one-two punch of antivirus and antispyware software will go a long way in keeping your computer as free from infection as possible.

Pretty simple stuff, actually. A lot of it is common sense, but keeping those things in mind when you’re browsing the Internet will help keep your computer protected from spyware.

If you're looking for great anti-virus software that won't break the bank, try StopSign. You don't pay extra for tech support for difficult malware, and our web protection software just works. Download & install StopSign to find out why our members choose us over the other options.

What is spyware?

What is spyware?

Whether it’s at a party with friends or on a phone call with one of our members, we’re often asked “What is spyware?“, but the answer isn’t always cut and dry. In theory, spyware is any software installed on your computer, typically without your knowledge, which is used to track your computer usage, change your PC’s configuration without telling you, and/or display unwanted advertising. Think of it like a digital spy camera, but instead of taking a picture of you, it’s taking snapshots of what you’re doing on your computer. In practice, however, many types of software could be loosely defined as spyware without being malicious. This makes keeping up with what is, and isn’t, spyware all the more difficult.

What we can all agree on is that spyware is computer software that’s more often than not set-up to monitor any activity on your PC, including (but not limited to) what you type, any websites you visit, or any habits you have when you use your computer. Because of this, the inference is that any piece of software that monitors any aspect of your computing can be considered spyware if you take it to the extreme. However, some software by it’s very nature needs to monitor your computer usage, files opened, and software downloaded. Malware and other scam software packages aren’t likely to tell you they’re installing themselves onto your system, much less tell you about any changes they make to your computer. And because there are so many rogue spyware applications out there you should evaluate any piece of software that you download (and ideally before you install) to have an informed decision regarding whether the software is using the information gathered, and any system changes, for good or bad.

Symptoms of a computer with a spyware infection include, but aren’t limited to:

  • An increase in unwanted popups, generally for advertising purposes. These popups may also occur when you’re not surfing the web, visiting Facebook, or streaming movies.
  • If your PC has become uncharacteristically slow, especially when opening, closing, or saving files, you may have a spyware infection. (Of course, a really old or un-optimized computer may act the same way)
  • A sudden, unintentional change in your browser’s homepage is a classic sign of spyware infection, especially if you’ve repeatedly attempted to reset your homepage back to your original settings.
  • New browser toolbars, desktop icons, bookmarks, or applications installed without your knowledge also herald the arrival of spyware onto your system.
  • A “hijacked browser” that takes you to web sites different from what you typed into your address bar is another classic example of things spyware will do.

In some cases, however, you may experience no symptoms at all, especially if the spyware installed is only monitoring your usage and not actively directing you to web sites or advertisements. That’s where some basic Internet security comes in, by having antivirus, antispyware, and firewall software installed, updated, and running 24/7 to help protect you against the real spyware that’s out there.

Image courtesy of x1brett

If you're looking for great anti-virus software that won't break the bank, try StopSign. You don't pay extra for tech support for difficult malware, and our web protection software just works. Download & install StopSign to find out why our members choose us over the other options.