Yahoo has released a version of its internet-services toolbar that removes spyware and adware.
As users surf the web, such programs download to their machines without their consent or knowledge, tracking their web usage, launching pop-up ads or undertaking other undesirable activities.
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When introduced last May, Yahoo's enhanced toolbar was criticised for failing to scan for adware by default - users had to enable the option. The new version default-scans for adware, spyware and other intrusive and stealthy software, such as cookie trackers.
Although many people regard spyware and adware as equally obnoxious, some point out that spyware is more intrusive and potentially dangerous. The Yahoo toolbar defines spyware as programs that track how you use your computer or surf online without your permission and adware as launchers of pop-up and pop-under ads.
After scanning for such programs, the toolbar lists those it finds and suggests which should be removed as potentially malicious and harmful, and which should be further evaluated. The scanning software comes from Pest Patrol.
The enhanced Yahoo toolbar can be downloaded free at toolbar.yahoo.com/. It also contains a search engine box, a button for blocking pop-up ads and shortcuts to a variety of Yahoo internet services such as e-mail, calendar, notepad, games and the Launch online music section of Yahoo's portal.
Juan Carlos Perez writes for IDG