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It’s easy to download and install a software program from the Web, and sometimes those programs can serve a useful purpose. But in a few cases those free or inexpensive programs bring an uninvited guest known as “spyware.” Spyware can lurk on a computer’s hard drive, monitoring visits to Web sites — even recording information typed into online forms. Then, without the user’s knowledge, the program can send that information to the spyware’s servers. The spyware company then can use the information to target spam messages or to serve customized pop-up ads. Several sites on the Web offer information and programs on locating and removing spyware that could be lurking on a computer. Salon.com dir.salon.com/tech/feature/2001/ 08/02/parasite_capital/index.html Online magazine Salon.com offers a good introduction to the subject, telling how such programs as CuteFTP and KaZaA allegedly have planted third-party spyware programs on unsuspecting users’ computers. Lavasoft www.lavasoftusa.com Lavasoft developed the program Ad-aware that, according to the company’s Web site, “is a free multi-spyware removal utility, that scans your memory, registry and hard drives for known spyware components and lets you remove them safely.” A $15 upgraded version offers some extra real-time protection. Bullet Proof Soft Inc. www.bulletproofsoft.com/ spyware-remover.html BPS Spyware/Adware Remover, according to the site, “scans your memory (for active memory ad components, which are not stored on your hard drive and last only as long as the computer is powered up), registry and hard drives for known SpyWare parasites and scum-ware components and lets you remove them safely.” Skychecker www.spychecker.com This site offers a handy method for checking to see whether a program is known to carry a spyware add-on. A check for CuteFTP, for example, reports that the FTP program comes with an add-on from an advertiser known as Everad. OptOut grc.com/optout.htm OptOut was the product of Steve Gibson, one of the first users to sound the alarm about spyware. “Internet companies, whose apparent ‘business model’ is the exploitation of consumer trust and ignorance, are sneaking their spyware systems into our machines for their own purposes,” the site claims. Almost 2.7 million copies of OptOut were downloaded, the site says, but the program no longer is available and will be replaced by a newer version. The site offers some valuable information on the workings of spyware. Counterexploitation www.cexx.org/adware.htm This site is a good source for more in-depth information on the subject. It has details on advertising spyware, homepage hijackers and more. Simply the Best www.simplythebest.net/ info/spyware.html The section titled “Help to clean spyware from your system” is especially helpful.

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