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Tech Take-Apart
Spy Sweeper
by rob

Is your PC secure? Is it really? You might be running spyware and you wouldn't even know it. What is spyware? It is any program that allows your activities to be tracked without your knowledge. There are three types of spyware:

Adware – tracks your online activities in order to show you targeted ads.
Keyloggers – records your keystrokes which exposes user names, passwords, and credit card numbers.
Trojan Horse – a malicious, self-installing program that allows hackers to access your computer.

According to the Micro Center Service Department, half of the computers brought in for service contain some sort of spyware. Some of those computers are so infected by spyware that it bogs down their processing power. Besides eating up valuable system resources, spyware can lead to identity theft.

I recently noticed a few odd things happening while online and I suspected some spyware had found its way onto my computer. Good thing there are programs like Webroot's Spy Sweeper. After installing it, you perform a “sweep,” which scans your files, cookies and registry for any kind of spyware. When sweeping my system, it found 140 instances of spyware, including two programs that deliver pop-up ads, one that hijacks internet searches and one that dynamically inserts links into web pages you view. Potentially, the most damaging might be the two programs it found that are premium rate phone dialers. These use your modem to dial costly toll numbers which will show up on your phone bill.

Removing the spyware was a snap. Just select all of the traces Spy Sweeper finds and it will “sweep” them off of your system.

Spy Sweeper is similar to an anti-virus program which needs to be updated regularly to stay current with all the new spyware that comes out. It also has an Active Shield feature that continually monitors what programs are running as well as protects your home page preference against unauthorized changes.

Minimum System Requirements:
Windows 98, 2000, Me, XP or NT4
150 MHz processor or better
15 MB hard drive space
CD-ROM Drive

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