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Spyware & Adware!

Spyware is Internet jargon for any data collection program that secretly gathers information about you and relays it to advertisers and other interested parties. Adware usually displays banners or unwanted pop-up windows, but often includes spyware as well.

You can unknowingly install spyware when you install new software, most commonly freeware or shareware (e.g., Limewire, BearShare, KaZaA, iMesh). Many of these programs are intended to track your Internet browsing habits, such as frequented sites and favorite downloads, then provide advertising companies with marketing data.

Some spyware programs, such as CommonName, MarketScore, and Gator, can adversely affect your computer's performance, and may prevent you from accessing secure services.

Unfortunately, you cannot fully remove most spyware and adware programs by using the uninstall option in the Windows Add or Remove Programs control panel. To completely remove spyware from your computer, we recommend using Ad-Aware or Spybot - Search & Destroy.

Download links:

Ad-Aware SE: Great for getting rid of spyware and malware - the items that can cause annoying pop-ups.
SpyBot: Similar to Ad-Aware, however more aggressive. Clean up spyware and hijack attempts.
Microsoft Anti-Spyware: Active prevention that does a really good job.

The best way to protect your computer against spyware and adware is to install a firewall and avoid installing any file-sharing programs known to contain adware and spyware, such as:

Applejuice
Ares P2P
Audiogalaxy
BearShare
BonziBUDDY
CometCursor
eDonkey2000
Gnucleus
Gnutella
Go!Zilla
Grokster
iMesh
KaZaA and KaZaA Lite
KMD
LimeWire
Morpheus
NeoModus (DirectConnect)
Overnet
Rapigator
Shareaza
SwapNut
Warez P2P
WinMX
 

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