PestPatrol shares spyware lessons

Combating spyware is PestPatrol 's job, but this week the company expanded from simply selling anti-spyware software to educating the public about the threat. PestPatrol is now offering its immense database of known spyware threats to the public, free of charge.

"We believe we've created the world's largest database of known spyware," says David Stag PestPatrol's cofounder. "For each threat, we develop detailed background information on their behavior, their prevalence, and removal strategies."

Protecting PCs

The database is available to the public at research.pestpatrol.com.

At the site, visitors can find step-by-step instructions on how to protect themselves, including tips on how to use a hosts file to block ads, how to block pornography, and how to clear a hijacked page.

Spyware is an increasing threat to all computer users. It contaminates PCs with annoying pop-up ads or more dangerous keystroke loggers, which can result in stolen passwords leading to identity theft. Consumers are often unaware that their machines are infected. The two most common signs of a contaminated machine are a noticeably slower Internet connection and pop-up ads that reappear every time the machine is powered on.

Gathering Information

PestPatrol realized that the best way to stop spyware from spreading is to educate the public. The company has compiled a large database on spyware trends because it has been gathering information on malicious code for four years, since it first introduced its anti-spyware software to the market.

Its online library includes more than 21,000 types of pests lurking in the cyberworld. While the company sells its anti-spyware software, the site features free advice on how to delete the infectious programs and prevent future attacks.

The team responsible for gathering spyware data at the PestPatrol Center for Pest Research has developed automated monitoring software that identifies new threats, enabling team members to react to new types of spyware quickly. The team can quickly post information regarding the threat (and ways to counter it) on the site.

Kumler writes for the Medill News Service

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Emily Kumler

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