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   March 2002


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WATCHDOG UTILITIES

BY DANIEL S. COOLIDGE

Dealing with Spyware, Information Leaks and Pop-Up Ads

Gibson Research Corporation

URL www.grc.com

Steve Gibson is a well-known industry iconoclast, most famous for his Spinrite hard disk restoration utility. He’s also been a pioneer in exposing the ubiquity of spy software. His Web site offers a number of freeware programs. For example, want to know if a Web site is trying to send a cookie, and what might be in it? Go to http://grc.com.idserve.htm for software that lets you detect a cookie and view its contents without having to accept the cookie.

Want to know if your firewall is working or if hackers can easily get through? Go to http://grc.com/lt/leaktest.htm and download Gibson’s Leaktest. It tries various ways to get around your firewall and, if it’s successful, tells you how it did it and what you should do to counter. There’s lots of good information on firewalls at this site.

Ad-aware

URL www.lavasoft.de

Available from Lavasoft, Ad-aware is now in version 5.6. You can download the basic utility for free, or a slightly enhanced version for a $15 registration fee. Ad-aware uses a knowledge base of known spyware (which is regularly updated and can be added to by users) to detect and eliminate spyware and advertising trojans from your system.

Spyblocker

URL www.morelerbe.com/spyblocker

This free utility runs in the background and automatically blocks spyware and unwanted software from running.

Pop-Up Killer

URL http://software.xfx.net

This utility automatically closes those annoying ads that pop up on your screen while you’re browsing the Web. You can download it for free. You can even set Pop-Up Killer to make a sound like an explosion when it kills an ad, which can be very satisfying. It can be a little tricky to use, sometimes killing pop-ups that you want to appear. You can, though, exclude certain Web addresses to avoid this problem.

Daniel S. Coolidge (dancoolidge@yahoo.com) specializes in intellectual property law.

(Warning: While the author has used each of the foregoing programs successfully on his own computer, you are at your own risk. Don’t call me!)