[Persian Kitty]  
 HINTS AND TIPS FOR SPYWARE AND MALWARE PROBLEMS
 
 
 Browsing the Web Should Be Worry Free

Does your internet browser seem to have a mind of its own? If so, it's likely a site you've visited has used one of several tricks to modify your browser settings.

What You Can Do About It

I've scoured the web for some easy solutions to some of the more common tricks and traps you may have encountered. The best article I've found on the subject of browser hijacking can be found at SpywareInfo.com.

If the info contained in that article doesn't solve the problem you are having, please read on below.
 The HOSTS File - a new danger

Getting pop ups or redirects for many of your favorite sites? Your Windows HOSTS file may have been changed without your knowledge. Before DNS servers came along, domain name translation was done through the HOSTS file on your PC. The hosts file listed, line by line, Internet domain names and their associated IP numbers. The DNS server system came along and eliminated much of the need for HOSTS files.

Most PC's still have a HOSTS file, and many scumware scripts take advantage of the fact by adding entries to the HOSTS file that cause normal surfing of popular sites to be redirected at their will. You can completely remove the HOSTS file or you can edit it. In Windows 95/98/ME, it is located in the "c:\windows" directory. In Windows NT/2000 it is in the "c:\winnt\system32\drivers\etc" directory. In WIndows XP, it can be found in the "c:\windows\system32\drivers" directory. You can view the file by opening it with any text viewer/editor, ie. Notepad.

An uninfected HOSTS file usually has only one entry in it. It will look like this:

127.0.0.1 localhost

If your HOSTS file shows any other IP addresses other than 127.0.0.1, something has altered it. Unless you recognize the information in the file, it's best to remove all lines except for the one above and save it. Once you do this you should be able to reach any site as normal.

 In Closing

Surfing the Web should be fun not scary. The environment created by scumware, spyware, browser hijackers and malicious scripts can make anyone afraid of that next mouse click.

Please note that I review every site and gallery personally. When they go online on my list, they are clean (virus free, scam free, scumware free). Then the fun begins. Each of those sites and galleries become a moving target. There are webmasters and sometimes hosting companies who will then at any point where they wish (maybe not day 1, maybe not day 2 or 3, could be day 50 or so on) modify the site or gallery so that it no longer complies with my rules. Then if I don't catch it on one of my many re-reviews and I receive emails about it without a url or site name, it's like trying to find a needle in a haystack. On top of that, there are some who know the IPs I use to connect to the Net. They make it so that when I look at the site, I see one version and when others look at it, they see a different one. Even others set their tricks to only happen to every 4th, 5th, 10th, etc, surfer.

I've never understood why a webmaster would want to resort to tactics that I consider to be cheating and that consumers hate instead of enjoying the traffic they receive from a listing on my site and working within reasonable methods.

I know this is long winded, but I wanted to tell you that I sit in the same position you do when it comes to these things and that I do my best, as a lone webmaster, to stay on top of them and try to keep them off my site. But.. I don't have any sort of program that I can run against my listings that automatically identifies when things like that have been added. If it existed, it would make my job tons easier and you wouldn't feel the need to send me email. I also started as a consumer and always advocate for the consumer. That's why you've never seen a pop up on my site itself when so many others resort to them for income. I deplore them. They make me mad. Why would anyone do anything more than close them and grumble about it. Certainly they wouldn't stop and click whatever it is then buy from it.