No! No! No! stop clicking on Net land mines

Helpline

December 18, 2003|By James Coates | James Coates,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

I received a message in a box that popped up in the middle of the screen that said that I had spyware on my PC. The message said, "To get rid of it click here and download this [for free]." I clicked on and downloaded. Is it possible to find out what I downloaded and where it is stored? My nephew told me to look in Program Files, but I looked and it wasn't there.

No! No! No! Please join me in sounding the alarm that taking a computer online puts one in a dangerous and unregulated place filled with malicious predators who get their jollies by tricking folks into clicking on their virtual land mines. When a box pops up keep your fingers off the mouse and tap Alt + F4 on the keyboard. This command closes the most recently opened window and eliminates these trick-bag message boxes. To get a view of the big picture, check www.spywareinfo.com.

Chances are strong that you can find and destroy whatever that unfortunate click planted on your machine using the free introductory software AdAware (www.lavasoft.de). Another free pop-up remedy is Pop-Up Stopper (www.panicware.com). A third worth mentioning is the $25 Spy Subtract by Intermute Inc. (www.intermute.com).

The endless tide of attacks are made possible through features Microsoft wrote into the Windows operating system to let publishers of Web pages offer visitors things like cute animations and other services.

Unfortunately, vandals can use these features to get victims to run software that does everything from deleting files to monitoring one's computer activity.

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper. James Coates can be reached at jcoates@tribune.com.

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