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Dialers / Trojan Horses / Cookies
Dialers are programs that initialize a computers modem an call out silently to a toll line and connect to a web page. It's the computer equivalent of dialing those expensive phone lines (also known as Premium Numbers). The longer you are connected the more you pay!!
Victims can find themselves on the hook to pay a huge phone bill for a lengthy long distance call. The longest I've heard of is someone who was on dial-up in Oxford who's son dialled China without knowing and ran up a bill of £100's of pounds.
It's the charges to a toll number that cause the most pain as the payer of the phone bill has to pay for the call. The good news is dialers are ineffective if your computer's modem is not connected to a phone line with a dial tone.
If you are dial up user, make sure the number you are dialling is the correct one which dials the ISP number given to you by your chosen ISP.
2. Trojan Horses
Like tale of Troy, these are pretty horses with deadly insides. I list Trojan horses because anti-spyware programs often detect and issue spyware signatures to them. A Trojan horse, named after the famous hollow wooden horse that got the Greeks secretly into Troy, is an innocent looking innocuous or harmful program that contains a virus or some other nasty malware in its belly, what the Trojans found out after they hauled the horse into the grounds all those years ago.
Even though trojan horses are classified as a form of virus, they are also spyware because they can allow malicious people to connect remotely to your computer over the internet.
These are sometimes called backdoor trojans because after they are installed on your computer, they can open an electronic backdoor so someone bad (like a hacker) can sneak in from the internet.
Some anti-spyware programs classify these cookies as spyware. They can be because the do deliver information about your web surfing habits to someone else. But they are not all bad, in fact some computer cookies are helpful.
Although it might seem objectional to have your movements tracked on your own computer, its not as insidious as you might think. Web programmers that code their sites to put cookies on your computer are the onky entities that know the cookies are there, and they are the only ones that can access the information.
Some cookies are good, some are bad, but if you delete cookies or have a program that cleans out cookies every 5mins or so, you will have to re-enter information you have provided previously. And deleting cookies as you buy stuff on a website would empty your shopping basket.
My tip here is that when you have finished shopping on a website you intend buying from, perform a clean after you have clicked off that site.