Yahoo has released a beta version of its downloadable toolbar in the US that will detect and remove unwanted software (AKA spyware) installed on user PC’s. Yahoo will be testing the anti-spyware technology, which has been supplied by antispyware company PestPatrol.
The software will be available to a limited number of users and no date has yet been set for the full release of the toolbar including anti-spyware. A spokesperson for Yahoo said the toolbar can be used to “perform a high-level scan of files on the PC to detect viruses or other applications that were installed surreptitiously and are used to spy on computer behaviour.”
The Yahoo Companion toolbar already offers search features as well as a pop-up ad blocker. Companion Downloads are probably bound to increase with the release of Yahoo Messenger 6. The two downloads are bundled together on Yahoo, making the popularity of each beneficial to the other.
More about Spyware
Spyware has become a large online problem with user PC’s becoming infested while downloading certain tools like screensavers or peer to peer software which batch in spyware to help turn a cool buck. Strictly defined, spyware is computer software that gathers information about a computer user without the user’s knowledge or informed consent, and then transmits this information to an organisation that expects to be able to profit from it in some way. Data-collecting programs installed with the user’s knowledge are not, properly speaking, spyware, if the user fully understands what data is being collected and with whom it is being shared.
Wikipedia adds that more broadly, the term spyware is applied to a wide range of related malware products which are not spyware in the strict sense. These products perform many different functions, including the delivery of unrequested advertising (pop-ups in particular), harvesting private information, re-routing page requests to illegally claim commercial site referral fees, and installing stealth phone dialers.
Spyware is normally installed through either one of two common methods. The first is to hide a spyware component within an otherwise apparently useful program. Often, the containing program is made available for download free of charge, so as to encourage wide uptake of the spyware component. The second common method is to take advantage of security flaws in Internet Explorer.