Yahoo adds antispyware service to toolbar

Yahoo began testing a new antispyware feature on its toolbar Thursday, allowing users to scan for and delete the small software applications often responsible for displaying pop-up ads, redirecting search results and changing the user's homepage, among other unwanted functions.

Anti-Spy for Yahoo Toolbar is currently in beta and available to some Yahoo users, with plans to further roll it out later this year, according to a company spokeswoman. The service allows users to identify potentially unwanted software, and then decide whether they want to disable, remove, ignore or keep the files, Yahoo said.

The service is being provided by third-party software provider PestPatrol Inc., based in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and comes amid increased calls to crack down on the Internet menace.

Industry players like America Online Inc. (AOL), for example, have recently bolstered their services with antispyware tools. AOL added spyware protection to its new AOL 9.0 Optimized Internet access software launched earlier this year. What's more, the U.S. Senate has been considering a bill, dubbed Software Principles Yielding Better Levels of Consumer Knowledge (SPYBLOCK), which seeks to prohibit installing software on a user's computer without notice and consent.

Yahoo's offering is aimed at shoring up its own security portfolio, and will be available to users who download the company's free toolbar, which also includes Internet search tools, a pop-up ad blocker, bookmarks and other customizable services.

In conjunction with the antispyware tool, the Sunnyvale, California, company also launched a spyware forum on its portal, which lets users share information on spyware threats and trends.

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