Anti Spy, Part Two

By Vince Barnes

Is someone -- or something
watching you?

Continued from Part One

So what should you do about it?

First, you need to decide if it's important to you.  It may be that your web use habits are such that it would not matter to you if somebody gathered information about it.  Since you are an HTML Goodies reader, however, I doubt this very much!  It is also worth noting that some "free" software applications that include some form of spyware cease to function if the spyware is removed.  Under these circumstances, you would have to decide for yourself which is more important.

To my way of thinking, any communication from my computer to anybody that is not something that I have deliberately established myself is undesirable.  Spyware sometimes finds its way into a family computer because the kids download music from a service site and use the "ad-supported" version of the software to do so.  Parents who wish to avoid the spyware, but don't want to spoil the kids' fun could elect to purchase versions that omit the spyware -- most of these services now include this option.

Having decided to eliminate spyware from your machine, you would need to know how.  There is software available to do this job for you -- as I had mentioned earlier.  There are both free products and "for sale" products.

In the free category is Spybot Search & Destroy ("Spybot" is a popular name for a spyware program.)  Spybot S&D is available from security.kolla.de   Spybot S&D currently detects, removes and prevents about 18,000 different spyware items.  Updates come out on a regular basis, but require manual checking.  While there is no charge for the program, its author, Patrick Kolla, asks for contributions to help him keep going.

For purchase, there is Webroot's Spy Sweeper (www.webroot.com)  Spy Sweeper detects, removes and prevents about 21,000 spyware items.  It also has the advantage of a subscription update service that is automatic.  The program costs US$29.95 with a year's subscription, but when you buy it the confirmation page offers to upgrade your purchase to two years for an additional $10.  Two years for $40, less than 50 cents a week, seems to me to be a most reasonable price.

I have both of these programs installed, but I rely now mostly on Spy Sweeper (though I did send Patrick Kolla a contribution!)  There are a lot of other anti-spyware programs available, but my research shows these two to be the most popular and highest rated in their respective categories.

When I use my computer, I want to have a reasonable degree of surety that I am not being watched or monitored and that I am not being invaded or attacked by malicious programs or people.  My anti-spyware is an important part of the protection that provides me that surety.

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