Xupiter Spyware in Your Computing Universe

Spyware has become a huge threat in the world of computing and a significant threat to anyone surfing the web.  One of the most commonly deployed spyware programs is an application by the name of Xupiter.  Similar to BHOs (browser helper objects) such as Gator, Xupiter is typically installed without a user's knowledge when their internet security settings are not configured properly.  It may be installed when visiting a site compromised by malware or by clicking on an advertising link, a process known as a drive-by download. 

Xupiter is a browser plug-in and is often downloaded on a computer by way of an Active X control.  Active X is a set of technologies, or simply an applet, developed by Microsoft.  While it is intended to enhance a user's web surfing experience, Active X is often exploited to download spyware, Trojan horses and other types of malware. 

Once installed on the victim's computer, Xupiter launches pop-up advertisements as the user attempts to surf the net.  It may also hijack the homepage of a web browser, adding links in the bookmark section and additional toolbars to Internet Explorer. 

Xupiter poses a great threat to a user's privacy as it tracks surfing patterns and reports that data to a centralized ad server.  The software comes with no removal function and can not be uninstalled through the Windows "Add/Remove" utility.  Because it's design differs from that of a virus, Xupiter usually cannot be detected or removed by most anti-virus software. 

How to Detect Xupiter

Although Xupiter is quite difficult to remove manually, detecting this infection is fairly easy.  This can be done by checking the list of "Startup" items in the configuration utility of your Windows operating system.  To search for this program, follow these directions:

go to "Start" from your Desktop screen

scroll down the menu and select "Run"

type in "msconfig" and click "OK"

when the new menu displays, click on the "Startup" tab

  scroll down the menu, and if you notice something that reads "XupiterToolbarLoader", your computer has been compromised by this spyware

Another way to detect Xupiter is to implement a reliable firewall application similar to those found in ZoneAlarm products.  While most firewalls cannot prevent this type of spyware from being installed on your system, they can detect the program as soon as it has been installed.  This is because many firewall components monitor both inbound and outbound communication between a computer and the internet.  When a new application attempts to access the internet for the first time, the firewall displays an alert asking if your want to grant the program access.  Such an alert will be displayed when the Xupiter attempts to access the internet.  For many users, this is the first indication that they have been infected with spyware.  If the system isn't completely consumed by malware, an anti-spyware application can then be installed to remove the infection. 

Although firewalls are a very essential part of today's computer security, not all of them are as effective as others.  For instance, Microsoft's Internet Connection Firewall that comes included with the Windows XP operating system cannot detect Xupiter and other forms of spyware because it doesn't have the ability to monitor outbound communication. 

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Spyware has many ways of getting onto your computer, such as:

When you download programs - particularly freeware, or peer-to-peer sharing programs.

More covertly, spyware can install itself just by you visiting certain sites, by prompting you to download an application to see the site properly.

ActiveX controls. These pesky spyware makers will prompt you to install themselves while using your Internet browser