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Whose Watching You?

By John Leigh
Posted Friday, November 12, 2004

We all love 'Freeware' right? After all it's human nature to want something 'free'. There are some very good freeware programs out there, Simple to download, simple to install, simple to get started with, especially when you don't have a lot of money to buy all the programs you want or need right?

Well........ There's always a Well... isn't there.

If you have installed any freeware, there's a good chance that you've also got some advertising - supported software too. Working in the background, downloading banner ads - pop ups etc.

Then there's something different - spyware - collecting information about you and your Internet related activity.

How does spyware get onto you computer? Usually downloaded as part of or in addition to the freeware application. You install the program you have downloaded then another user agreement pops up that you click 'OK' (how many read all the user agreement - you should). Sometimes spyware is 'misnamed' as freeware. Then when you uninstall the original program the spyware can remain.

What Can You Do?

A good first step is to install a firewall. ZoneAlarm a good very popular firewall. A firewall stops spyware 'reporting back home' when surfing the Internet. You have good control over what is allowed to have access to the Internet.
Get a copy from ZoneAlarm (

Others include
Tiny ( Sygate Personal Firewall 5.0 (

You can approve or deny access for any application. If an application tries to access the Internet for the first time, you will be asked whether to allow or not.

Watch Out!

Always read the user agreement of any software you install. Watch out for phrases like 'occasional or periodic use of your Internet connection in the background' or enhanced browsing. Watch for extra user agreements and install windows popping up. It's easy to click OK without realising it's not for the original software clicked on earlier.

Be Gone!

Some spyware can be removed from the add/remove programs in the control panel. The best way is to use a program such as Lavasoft's Ad-Aware (which comes in three options - basic - plus and Pro). I like this program and use it a lot. (

Simple to use - this scours you system, scanning your registry and hard discs searching for any adware and spyware. Anything that is found can be quarantined and/or removed.

If you have a program that you think is spyware check it on spychecker database at ( If it is adware and not spyware then spychecker usually tells you.

Protect Yourself

Here's those addresses again

ZoneAlarm ( Tiny ( Sygate Personal Firewall 5.0 ( ( (

About the Author
Written by John Leigh. John Leigh is editor and publisher of Leigh Resource Ezine for resources, information and software products to help online business. To Subscribe send a blank email to : and receive a 5 part mini course or visit (


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