Friday, November 25, 2011

Freebies, Spyware, and EULAlyzer

There are countless of freebies that you could download in the Internet. But there is a downside for that. If you're the type of user who loves to download free games and softwares, chances are, you are risking your computer to spyware.

Photo by Idea go via freedigitalphotos

But what is spyware? According to wisegeek:

"Spyware refers to programs that use your Internet connection to send information from your personal computer to some other computer, normally without your knowledge or permission. Most often this information is a record of your ongoing browsing habits, downloads, or it could be more personal data like your name and address."

Usually, these spyware are being installed voluntarily by who else, but the user himself! Most of these spywares come bundled with other applications being downloaded and that is how they get to be installed by the unsuspecting user.

By downloading these applications, you agree to install the spywares included in the package. It's either, take it or leave it. Remember the Terms of Agreement or End-User License Agreement (EULA) that you have to read before each installation? You know you cannot proceed without clicking the "I Accept" button. Most users don't bother to read the text because it's too long and boring. But yes, the agreement mentions about the spywares included in the package. Of course, they don't mention the word "spyware" per se. But watch out for the term "third party software."

That is how hackers work, they use a very useful and interesting software as bait. Who would bother reading a long text anyway? Besides, you would be too excited to install the program right away to even worry about the EULA.

This doesn't mean that you cannot download all the free stuff out there anymore. You just have to have the proper defences against the bad stuff. There are two ways I know that could help you prevent spywares.

I. Manually scan your entire hard disk especially after installing a new application using an antispyware software. I use SUPERAntiSpyware and Malwarebyte's Anti-Malware software. Make sure the database is updated before attempting the system scan. By doing this step, you are able to remove the installed spywares that came along with your freebies, and still get to use the software you need.

II. Download the EULAlyzer from CNET website. It allows you to scan the Terms of Agreement or End-User Licence Agreement (that is, EULA!), "flags words, statements, and phrases worth your attention." Just copy and paste the text on the Eulalyzer window (or drag the "+" icon of the Eulalyzer to the EULA), and it will do the analysis for you.