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Friday, November 05, 2004

Spyware defined!

Are you mystified by this phenomenon we're hearing more and more about? You are not alone. It's one of the most pervasive - and misunderstood - problems family PC users face. recently unveiled its "Spotlight on Spyware," which describes spyware symptoms and the most devious examples, and provides six tips for preventing it from overrunning your family PC. There is also a page listing and linking to a number of Internet service providers' tools for detection and removal of spyware. I would add that there are free scan-and-remove tools not mentioned on GetNetWise's page. A couple that have gotten excellent reviews are Ad-Aware and SpyBot Search & Destroy.

The page on spyware prevention would be a good talking point for a family PC security discussion (if a tech-literate teenager in your house doesn't already have this nailed). In working with kids, I'd zoom in on the first two tips (and take care of the rest about PC security myself) - about being skeptical about downloading strange or free software and paying attention to your computer's security warnings. The best policy might be to have kids ask you about installing or downloading anything and, when a security warning pops up, "come get me before you do anything" (don't "x" it out till Mom or Dad checks it out). As for file-sharing programs, which are reportedly riddled with spyware, have that anti-spyware software installed (maybe even the industrial-strength version that'll cost you $30 or so) if there's P2P activity on the PC.

Email me about how your family is working through the spyware challenge. Are your kids part of the solution yet?


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