In the early days of the internet you didn't have to worry about people tracking where you went online or trying to sell you anything outside of what you were looking for, but times have changed and so has the internet. One of the biggest businesses on the internet is the sale of user information and demographics. Advertisers want to know how to sell you their product. They do this in 2 very distinct ways; spyware and pop-up advertisements.
Spyware is any small program that is placed on your computer that monitors your browsing and buying habits. It sends information about you back to its originator for their purposes. Spyware has a few other features. It will slow down your computer and cause conflicts on your computer. It will also allow pop-ups to penetrate your computer's defenses.
You can fight back and remove spyware easily enough. Their are several programs out there that can help you and they are free. The first program we recommend is Ad-Aware. It is a small download and will effectively scan your hard drive and help you remove all spyware activity. You can visit the Ad-Aware homepage at http://www.lavasoft.de/
Another great program to help against spyware is Spybot - Search & Destroy. This is a great program recommended by many professionals at Tech TV. We like it too. You can find out more by going to http://www.safer-networking.org/
Pop-up advertisements can cause a lot of trouble by allowing spyware to be installed on your computer. There are many pop-up blockers out there, but be careful. Many pop-up blockers will block some pop-ups, but invite others. You want to use a reputable blocker and the best we've found is from Google.
Google is best known as a search engine, but they provide other services including the Google toolbar. The toolbar allows you to search their site from your browser window, track auctions, and various other features, but what is best is that it will block pop-up advertisements completely. When used in conjunction with a spyware remover you can stop the onslaught of spyware and pop-ups altogether. The Google toolbar can be found at http://toolbar.google.com/