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Surfing the Net and Privacy

Techstination feature for Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Surfing the Net... and privacy. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. Whether you use a computer at work or at home to surf the Internet... you leave a very visible trail behind. Visible to others who may use the same computer... and often visible through what are called cookies or spyware... to companies that want to track what Web surfers are doing. Sometimes the technology is designed to simplify surfing... so you don't have to type in passwords or the full names of Web sites over and over. A company called Webroot Software has been making tools to help computer users protect their privacy. CEO C. David Moll...

"As the Internet grows more popular, used at home and work, people become more comfortable with the medium but sometimes forget really what the implications to their privacy might be. With that in mind, we've developed several applications that do a few things. One, we help people understand how much of their information gets spilled out over the Web or retained on their PCs and we help people manage that. Quite often that means simply just getting rid of what's left on your machine when you're done using it."

The tools include Window Washer and Spy Sweeper... both of which sell for about thirty dollars. Moll says the programs have other benefits as well...

"Not only are we talking about real implications to people's privacy but also a huge implication to the performance of that PC."

Webroot has free tools on its Web site so you can see just how exposed you are. The company does face competition from Network Associates, Symantec and others. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.