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Banish Your Unbidden Spyware

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Some web sites and many seemingly innocent shareware programs install spyware on your computer, silently tracking your online movements. Here's how to find and eradicate these pernicious e-snoops.

From time to time, I recommend sites or software that I later learn use some sort of spyware to keep tabs on people without first getting their permission. To help SearchDay readers guard against being taken advantage of by these charlatans, here's some information about spyware and how to get rid of it, should your computer ever become infected.

Unlike viruses or worms, spyware isn't necessarily dangerous. Most spyware takes one of two forms: surveillance software, which tracks your behavior while you use your computer, and adware, which barrages you with advertisements when you least expect them.

Of the two, surveillance spyware is of greatest concern, because you don't really have any idea who's seeing your personal information or what they're doing with it. Adware, by contrast, is mostly just irritating -- unless it's advertising for unsavory or offensive content.

Fortunately, a number of resources and tools can help you detect and eliminate spyware. Many of these resources are free. If you're concerned about your privacy, or are experiencing an unexplained increase in the number of pop-up ads you've been seeing recently, check out the resources below.

SpywareInfo
http://www.spywareinfo.com/
Articles, links, resources and other useful information to protect yourself from spyware or remove it if your computer is already infected.

Spychecker
http://www.spychecker.com/
Check before you download: Spychecker is a database that indexes almost a thousand software titles using spyware or adware.

Bugnosis
http://www.bugnosis.org/
A free utility from the Privacy Foundation that detects "web bugs," code that can be attached to "invisible" web graphics on a web page and used to track your browsing activity.

Free Popup Killer Tools
http://www.webattack.com/Freeware/misctools/fwpopblock.shtml
Reviews and free downloads for a wide range of pop-up killer tools.

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