Beware of Spies!
The March 2002 issue of PC WORLD Magazine (p 150) discusses an unsettling trend in advertising: spyware. Some software advertising systems do more then just show static banners. They make use of your internet connection to send out information about you, your internet activity and your preferences. This information is collected in databases and sold to third parties without your knowledge or consent! Because of the secret behavior of these systems, they are also called "Advertising Trojans".
Most of these systems are installed with a popular host applications. Usually, they attach themselves to your browser and are completely invisible to you. Many popular applications are now routinely including parasites in every download!
Are you already "infected" ? Probably! Ask yourself: Does browsing speed seem slower since you installed an application? Does a strange file frequently want to connect to a remote server, but your virus scanner tells you it is not a trojan horse? Does your modem data light flash constantly even when there is no activity on the browser? Do you receive lots of targeted spam and do some of the spammers seem to know an awful lot about you? Then there is a good chance that your computer has some advertising parasites ...
I took the advice of PC World and downloaded LavaSoft's free Ad-ware spyware detection and removal utility (www.lavasoftusa.com). Ad-aware scans the entire system for known spyware components and lets you safely remove them. I was amazed to discover no less than 28 spies lurking on my hard drive. After Ad-aware deleted them, my connection speed improved noticeably and my modem data light stopped its constant flickering.
But, most importantly, I am now sending a clear message to those sleazy advertisers that think nothing of invading my office, secretly recording my keystrokes and selling the data without my knowledge or permission! I recommend that you do the same! If everyone follows suit, maybe we can put a lid this cancerous advertising practice.
If you want to support the development of Ad-aware, please consider purchasing Ad-aware Plus. Ad-aware plus users are automatically notified as soon as a new reference file or AAW version is available for download.