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Apart from Viruses, Internet Worms and hacking attempts, there is a minor plague of lesser problems which can be thought of as "Nuisances".  These include:

Pop-up windows

These often advertise utilities to block Pop-ups!  There are two main types:

bulletExtra Browser Windows, which some websites (including this one!) generate via your browser.  The Opera browser is useful for its ability to manage website pop-ups if they are a problem.  We recently trialled the pop-up blocking utility PopUpCop for Computing Which? and found it effective and agreeably easy to use.
bullet"Messenger-Service" pop-ups (No connection with Instant Messaging).  Messenger-Service pop-ups should be blocked by your firewall, but you could also disable the Messenger Service in Windows (but do check with other users/administrators first!)


It can be very easy to inadvertently download small programs or scripts which track what you do on your computer and send this information "back to base".  Some websites which carry advertisements can recognise you via "cookies", and want this information to target future advertisements.  You may find you have more of these "spybugs" than you'd expect!  Most are relatively harmless, but not all - some go looking for credit card numbers!  Two utilities are widely used to detect and remove them:


They are both free to download, and appear to detect different things!

"Spam"  image: tin of Spam

Unsolicited mass-mailings about things you probably don't want, and often very unpleasant.  Volumes of Spam have exploded in the last two years, and recent reports suggest that 50% of all emails are spam.   This article has good advice on how to avoid spam, and what (not) to do when you get it.  You might be interested in thise more detailed paper from the Cambridge Computer LaboratoryKey tips:

bulletNever buy (encourages the villains)
bulletNever reply (validates your address)
bulletAvoid opening spam (can validate your address - turn off the Preview Pane in email readers)
bulletUse a Service Provider which provides a spam filter (e.g. BT Broadband Information)
bulletDon't divulge your email address lightly.  The address is useful when an address must be supplied.  Try sending a message to that address and see what comes back!
bulletBe aware that the sender's address will usually be forged.
bulletWhen those elements fail, as they will, just use the delete key! (Just as you'd ignore foul language overhead in the street.)

If you are seriously plagued by spam, call us for advice.

Home Page "Hijacking"

You find a website appears automatically when you open your browser, and you can't get rid of it.  Believed to be a common trick used by pornographers, who also register addresses which are likely mis-spellings of popular websites.  Type carefully!  Rectifying this problem involves editing the Windows Registry, which is not recommended except for advanced users.  Call for advice if this happens to you.