Banish Your Unbidden Spyware

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.

Articles, links, resources and other useful information to protect yourself from spyware or remove it if your computer is already infected.

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

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
Reviews and free downloads for a wide range of pop-up killer tools.

Search Headlines

NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication's search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.

Online access news
Tiscali to launch Excite across Europe...
The Register Jul 22 2002 12:22PM GMT
Online legal issues news
Internet extends legal reach of national governments... Jul 22 2002 5:38AM GMT
Online portals news
Some Serious Word-Scrambling at Yahoo...
New York Times Jul 22 2002 1:00AM GMT
Online search engines news
Google Bumps Overture From Jeeves... Jul 21 2002 1:40AM GMT
Online marketing news
Yahoo pulls plug on online casino ads...
Online Casino News Jul 20 2002 11:37PM GMT
Domain name news
Man sued for cybersquatting...
USA Today Jul 20 2002 4:32PM GMT
Online content news
Online news 'illegal'...
Copenhagen Post Jul 20 2002 9:36AM GMT
Online search engines news
Overture shrs lose over 12 pct on loss of Ask Jeeves...
CNET Jul 19 2002 8:18PM GMT
Online portals news
Yahoo Japan Net Profit Jumps in April-June...
CNET Jul 19 2002 9:55AM GMT
XML and metadata news
W3C Makes XML Signatures More Portable...
Internet News Jul 18 2002 10:00PM GMT
Online search engines news
Ask Jeeves reports Q2 loss, higher revenues...
iWon Jul 18 2002 9:52PM GMT
Top internet stories
Identity rules...
The Economist Jul 18 2002 5:20PM GMT
Online search engines news
Gaga for Google? When results don't count...
ZDNet Jul 18 2002 2:44PM GMT
powered by

About the author

Chris Sherman is a frequent contributor to several information industry journals. He's written several books, including The McGraw-Hill CD ROM Handbook and The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can't See, co-authored with Gary Price. Chris has written about search and search engines since 1994, when he developed online searching tutorials for several clients. From 1998 to 2001, he was's Web Search Guide.