Yahoo on Thursday is expected to release an upgrade for its downloadable toolbar to help people detect and remove spyware, or malicious files, on their PCs.
For now, the Web portal will be testing the technology, which has been supplied by antispyware company PestPatrol. It will offer the toolbar upgrade only to a select number of people at beta.toolbar.yahoo.com, Yahoo spokeswoman Stephanie Iwamasa said.
The software can perform a high-level scan of files on a PC to detect viruses or other applications that were installed surreptitiously and are used to spy on computer behavior.
"The toolbar is the best place to present this application because of its accessibility—you can log on and use your toolbar from any machine—and because it's a persistent application in the browser window," Iwamasa said.
Yahoo joins other companies in the fight against the growth of spyware. EarthLink recently introduced antispyware technology for its subscribers. And last week, Google urged software makers to follow common-sense guidelines when writing programs that embed themselves on Internet users' PCs. It stated that the programs should be clearly labeled, permit consumers to disable them, and not perform actions such leaking personal information.
Interest is also growing at the state and federal government levels in regulating and perhaps even banning adware and spyware. Utah has already enacted such a law, and the U.S. House of Representatives and the Federal Trade Commission have convened hearings on the issue in the past few weeks.