As of today, the #1 downloaded program is Spy Sweeper â€“ a powerful anti-spyware tool. About 1.2 million people install it every week. Spy Sweeper is followed by two other anti-spyware products: Spyware Doctor and Ad-Aware. So far so good. People are aware of the spyware threat and are taking action to mitigate it.
Next line down the listâ€¦ Oh, no! This is LimeWire! Yes, the #4 is occupied by a file-sharing program that is ideally suited to proliferate malware. But thatâ€™s not it. A few lines below we see our good old file-sharing friend Morpheus at #7. As if that was not enough, there is BitTorrent, another risky program, at #9.
So, in the top ten downloaded software programs, we find three anti-spyware tools and three potential spyware mediums. Do you see a pattern here?]]>
Unfortunately, in the brave new world of the Internet, things are not as straightforward. The underlying reason why this is the case is that our perception of what is happening inside our computers is very limited. For example, if somebody was trying to steal your wallet, you would be able to see it and feel it. If, on the other hand, a hacker is stealing credit card information from your computer, you may find out about this months later.
So how do you minimize your chances of being a victim of computer crime? One of the best things to start with, is to realize that some online behaviors are much more risky than others. For example, using file sharing software, such as Morpheus or LimeWire virtually guarantees a spyware infection, unless your computer is equipped with industrial-strength security software that is properly configured and up to date.
There are many other high-risk behaviors that greatly increase the likelihood of you becoming a target of cybercrime. Iâ€™m working on an interactive risk evaluator that promises to be both fun and useful, so stay tuned! (For now, I recommend that you take a look at 10 most dangerous things you can do to compromise your computer’s security ).]]>