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Spyware Killer FAQ

How do advertisers track people on the web?
How can I remain completely anonymous on the web?
If I disable and refuse all cookies am I "tracking proof?
What's a "Web bug?
How does Spyware Killer protect me?
How is Spyware Killer different?

Q: How do advertisers track people on the web?
Web tracking technology is highly advanced and is becoming more so all the time. The desire for "them" to know as much about you as they can seems to make advertisers go all out. So, new and ever-more-clever approaches are always being developed.

Fellow privacy advocate, Richard Smith, has a collection of terrific pages that explain many of these technologies in satisfying detail. I highly recommend that you check them out!

Q: How can I remain completely anonymous on the web?
True Internet anonymity is surprisingly difficult to achieve. Several things are required if you really want to pull this off:

 First, you must route all of your Internet access through a "third-party" anonymizing server. This will disguise your actual IP address and should also offer some "content filtering" to suppress unnecessary eMail and http headers from mail and web activities. The most popular anonymizing service is http://www.anonymizer.com/. I have no direct experience with them, so I can't vouch for their services in any way, other than to say that they have a good reputation in the industry and have been around "forever" (which is, in itself, a good sign).

 Second, you must cleanse your applications themselves. For example, your web browser should NOT know anything about you. Some browsers have your eMail address filled-in for accessing FTP servers — that's clearly not very anonymous. Also, your browser must be run in the highest security mode possible, with all active content and scripting completely disabled. You must NEVER agree to run any script or active content on any web site you visit. And, all of the browser's many "caches", "cookies" and "histories" should be flushed and cleaned out.

As you can see, true anonymity is frustratingly difficult to achieve and requires that we sacrifice many conveniences.

Q: If I disable and refuse all cookies am I "safe?
Unfortunately, no. There's another more recent tracking technology that's VERY potent and doesn't reply upon cookies. Please see the following question which describes the new technique known as "web bugs."

Q: What's a "web bug?
"Web Bug" is the term for a new and nasty (potent) tracking technology. It's extra nasty since even eMail messages can be "bugged" and mass mailers (spammers) can, and do, use these bugs to confirm your receipt and viewing of their spam, even if you then delete the note!

A web bug is usually a minimum size, one pixel high by one pixel wide (1x1) transparent .gif image. Being transparent you can't see anything, yet any HTML-enabled viewer, including your browser, eMail, news, or other "client" will fetch the tiny .gif image from a foreign server whenever the image is displayed. If cookies are enabled then a full "cookie exchange" will transpire as well — and you already know what THAT means about loss of privacy!

But, more importantly, even if cookies are NOT enabled, a new technology, which I call "fake dates", can still be used to track you individually. By uniquely and individually "faking" the last modified date of a web bug image (or of a traditional web advertisement for that matter) it is possible for you to be tracked just as deliberately and uniquely as if all cookies were being accepted! Whenever your browser already contains a web bug image in it cache, it asks the foreign server if the image has been modified since the "fake date", which instantly and uniquely identifies you to the server since every person being tracked is given a different fake date!

If nothing else, this goes to show you how desperate these sneaky bugs are to track your movement across the Internet. Richard Smith has done some wonderful work on this issue.

Please see Richard's WebBug FAQ

Q: How does Spyware Killer protect me?
SafeHouse Spyware Killer uses a new and different approach to Spy ware. Spyware Killer blocks the intrusion of these programs before they are allowed to access your PC and personal information. No product today has the ability to protect your information and privacy like Spyware Killer.

Q: How is Spyware Killer different?
SafeHouse Spy Killer uses a new and different approach to Spyware. We block the intrusion of these programs before they are allowed to access your PC and personal information. Many competing Spyware programs require a database of spy ware bugs that needs to be updated when a new bug is created. With Spyware Killer it is different. We block this intruding programs before they are ever loaded on your PC.

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