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Spy wars: the Evil Empire strikes back

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These are the years of malware - spyware, not-quite viruses, adware, that kind of stuff - which, if not cleaned out regularly, eventually clogs up your system, apart from reporting your every action back to various sites and popping up embarrassing windows in the middle of a surf. At least I think they do. The conventional advice is to run the free Spybot and AdAware (find local sites on Google and download) once a week. You do, of course, have your firewall installed and your anti-virus virus software subscription up to date, don't you?

But now, that estimable source of computer wisdom Fred Langa, at www. langalist. com, points out that the Evil Empire has a new anti-spyware application called? erm? AntiSpyware, which isn't half bad at its job. It's actually an existing application that Microsoft acquired when it bought software house Giant. You first have to prove your Windows operating system was truthfully acquired, but that won't be a problem, will it? Check it out at www. microsoft. com/athome/security/ spyware/software/default. mspx. It's a Beta version that expires in the middle of the year but Langa, who knows far, far more about this stuff than I ever will, calls it a 'very promising tool'. Incidentally, he also swears by SpywareBlaster. Find a local download site on Google.

The thing is that none of these malware detectors/eradicators will pick up every single case, so you have to run a couple every week - and change the order in which you do. Think of it like doing the washing. But hold on there - don't just download any old software that promises to clear your system of spyware or which, bidden or unbidden, does a quick check and reports unknown horrors that only its software will cure.

I'm afraid even real anti-spyware sellers sometimes try this trick.

Talking of tricks, take a look at this piece in The Register on the real price of Apple's new $500 (£269) Mac Mini:

www. theregister. co. uk/2005/01/14/ macworld_2005_roundup.

sutherland. lyall@btinternet. com

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