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Taking Control Of Spyware

Online advertising is now way too intrusive and invasive. Unethical advertisers don't see a problem with installing spyware programs on your PC without your knowledge or consent.

In Internet Explorer's "Tools" menu, click on "Internet Options...". On the "Security tab" click on the "Custom  level..." button. Unless you have the "Disable" or the "Prompt" radio button selected next to "Download ActiveX controls", its virtually certain that someone has already installed a spyware program on your computer and is monitoring all of your web surfing activities.

Your Web browsing is being tracked and the data that is "mined" is being sold to countless third parties (remember all those pop-up windows you've been getting?). These "privacy thieves" make lots of money by selling your browsing habits to companies who target you for advertising. Popup ads appear out of nowhere even when you visit web sites that don't use popup windows. 

The Lavasoft software company maintains an up-to-date reference database of all spyware programs. They provide a free software program called Ad-aware that scans your PC's hard drive and registry for known spyware programs. It then  allows you remove the spyware programs and tracking cookies from your computer.

Visit Lavasoft and select "Download" on the "Support" menu. On the "Download" page, scroll down to "Full install" and click on a download source, (ie download.com). This will download the  Ad-aware installation file (aw6.exe is the current version as of this writing).

After downloading, double-click on aaw6.exe to execute the installation program (if you're using Windows 2000, first login as Administrator). The installation program will put an icon for  Ad-aware on your desk top.

Double click on the Ad-aware icon to execute the program. In the program window, click on "Scan now". On the "Preparing system scan" page click "Next".

The software will scan your hard drive and registry (this may take a few minutes) for spyware programs and data tracking cookies. The results will look something like this:

       52 objects recognized   3 Registry keys identified
       66 files identified

When the scanning process is finished, click "Next". You'll be taken to the "scanning results page" where you'll see a list of spyware objects found. Once again, click "Next". A dialog box appears asking if you want to remove the objects. Click "OK" to delete the spyware objects.

The Ad-aware Standard Edition is completely free and it removes spyware software and data tracking cookies from your system.

The Ad-aware Plus Edition (which you have to pay for) adds real-time monitoring and blocking to the program. In addition to spyware detection and removal, the real-time monitoring prevents the spyware from being placed on your computer in the first place.

There are other spyware detection and removal utilities available, but Ad-aware is free, easy to install and use, and extremely effective!

Stephen Bucaro is the owner of Bucaro TecHelp. Visit him at: http://bucarotechelp.com

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