One of the biggest challenges a computer owner can face is getting rid of adware or spyware... Reuters, Feb. 9, 2004 Spyware defined: Spyware is any application that tracks your online behavior without your knowledge or consent. Spyware is now the #1 threat to online privacy, replacing viruses. Ninety percent of internet-connected PCs are infected with a form of spyware. Spyware ranges from somewhat innocuous (adware) to malicious (Trojans, system monitors, dialers, and keyloggers). Impact of spyware: Unidentified spyware can expose private information, slow Internet access, reduce computer productivity or cause PC corruption, and result in increasing pop-up ads. Spyware easily bypasses anti-virus software and firewalls by disguising as a legitimate download, then surreptitiously installs on your system without your knowledge. Many spyware programs intertwine with system functions or desirable programs, making it almost impossible to remove spyware manually. Spyware infection can happen when: You use the Internet for even a few minutes to visit web sites. You download shareware or freeware applications. You swap or share music or photo files with other users. Your computer is used by others. Spyware Stories Spyware is like adware, except that it has gone completely over to the dark side, scanning your hard drive for personal information or attempting to link your surfing habits to your name or e-mail address. PC World, July 23, 2003 Last July, a keystroke logger was installed on several public Internet terminals in 13 copy shops in Manhattan. The person who installed the program stole more than 450 online banking passwords from unwitting customers during a two-year period. Attempting to mitigate his own financial losses, a 19-year-old online trader used tracking software to gather online brokerage account username and login information from his victims' computers. ***************** Well, now you have the story what can you do about it? There are several software available to scan and selectively remove spyware. One of them that is effective and has received good reviews is Adware by Lavasoft. Next time we will go into more detail on spyware and get into how to install and run the Adware spyware remover software.