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Rage Against Spyware

Spyware is misnamed. It should've been called "scum-ware," "sleaze-ware," "sucks-ware," "anti-privacy-ware," "GeorgeOrwell-ware," or "waste-of-my-valuable-time-ware."

The term spyware is too innocuous. It conjures up something cool or mysterious, like a nifty crime-fighting gadget from a James Bond flick. Maybe that's why more people don't take it seriously. But spyware is nasty. Spyware bogs down PCs and networks. It cuts into individual productivity and ties up IT staffs. It also threatens personal freedom online.

In the physical world, we have laws against spying. It's just plain illegal -- not to mention creepy -- to do the things in real life that spyware does online. Think about it: You can't tape-record most telephone calls, but there's spyware software that logs keystrokes to record online conversations. You can't shadow a real person in a shopping mall and track their purchase decisions. You'd be arrested for harassment. But there's spyware that monitors and examines online shoppers' every move.

But I digress. Everyone knows by now, or should be aware, that we really cannot expect much privacy in the electronic world, right? Not exactly. We can still scratch out some small shred of dignity online if we're willing to fight for it. At a minimum, that means emphasizing daily anti-spyware computer hygiene. Fortunately, there are a number of tools available to help.

First step to take is to get informed. One of the most comprehensive and easily digestible discussions of the spyware problem is here. Aimed at IT pros as well as consumers, the InformationWeek Special Report gives you what you need to know. It covers enterprisewide strategies, downloads, and tons of reader recommendations.

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