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As if we didn't have enough to worry about. Now, "SPYWARE"! At first seeming less intrusive than viruses (that can do damage to your computer and are intent in spreading themselves), SPYWARE has a much higher potential for disaster: theft of your identity or your data.
SPYWARE, like a virus or worm, is software that is installed behind the scenes on your computer without your knowledge or effort. In the past, such software was willingly acquired as a side-effect of getting "free" software, like "pop-up blockers" or free games. In many cases today, though, SPYWARE is installed automatically as a side-effect of visiting certain web sites. The Federal Trade Commission is investigating the legal aspects of this new intrusion - just one more confrontation on our personal lives as a side-effect of the onward march of technology.Sometimes called "Adware", SPYWARE can simply observe the sites that you are visiting, collecting statistics on your web activities and reporting them "behind the scenes" to remote sites on the Internet that perform market research. However, there is no assurance that the data obtained may not infringe on your privacy, and once SPYWARE is running on your system it has the ability to transmit a wide variety of information, ranging from keyboard strokes, credit card numbers, or passwords. Consequently, SPYWARE is a high threat in the area of consumer security using the computer.
There are several programs available that are constantly being updated to scan for SPYWARE on systems:
Spybot Search and Destroy (www.spybot-search-destroy.com)
SpyKiller - Highly recommended at $39.95 fee.
Pest Patrol - Another great payable site, at a $39.95 fee.
Ed. note: based on personal experience, the $39.95 charge for download of the above programs is worth it, since they are highly effective at scrubbing your computer. (Note: this, in spite of the fact that there are many cases in which the government is prosecuting individuals who have infected large numbers of computers with spyware, then offered programs - at a fee - to remove their lousy, infectious programs!).
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