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Blindly ignoring EULAs - and the subtle warnings they might contain - can endanger your network and valuable data. This guide explores the hidden caveats in the typical software agreement.
By now you've heard all about computer viruses, Trojan horses, worms, identity theft, and phishing scams, and you're taking the necessary steps to secure your computer and privacy when using the internet. One boring little item, however, can undo your good work if you're not careful. That item is the end-user license agreement (EULA) covering the software you use.
These agreements themselves can't harm you or your computer. In fact, EULAs can do just the opposite: they highlight things that can put you at risk. The harm comes from ignoring EULAs—and the subtle warnings they might contain—by blindly agreeing to their terms. Ignoring EULAs can expose your computer to security risks and put your privacy at risk.
For instance, a EULA might require you to allow the software publisher or a third party to collect information about your internet activity in exchange for use of the software. This information could include not only the web sites you visit, but also information you supply in online transactions, such as your name, address, credit card number, and items purchased. Once collected, the security of this information is out of your control (a fact highlighted by the number of recent, high-profile database attacks).
By carefully reading and understanding the EULA covering software before you install it, you can make an informed decision that takes into account any privacy and security issues. This research guide takes a closer look at EULAs.
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