Blue Knight posted a note about "Beware of Free Smilies" and stated that they might have spyware.
I have had some experience recently with spyware and have learned a LOT about it, who uses it, and how it gets into a system. While sitting in a completely idle state I happened to look at my cable modem and noticed that the activity light was blinking. Why would my activity light be blinking if I have no applications running and I am not on the internet? That's because someone else is reading my PC! Constantly too boot. It's very onerous.
Unfortunately, free smilies are only one of MANY ways in which your PC is being bombarded with spyware. It is really a bit frightening and can be very hard to manage. Gator, Bonzai Buddy, Weatherbug, and other applications are LOADED with spyware. Most porno and music sites use cookie based spyware to infect your system and then start with pop-up ad barrage. Wonder why those pop ups just keep coming? The government is holding hearings right now on this topic and used a San Diego company as an example of how spyware can hold a PC hostage with their 135,000 pop-ups an HOUR!!! An hour! 135,000 pop-up advertisements per hour. Hello?
I have used a commercial software called "Adaware" which is from Lavasoft and it is a spyware identification and removal software. The home user version is freeware in an attempt to attract corporate users through successful home use. I used it at home and immediately purchased it for my business network.
Here is the link to their main website. http://www.lavasoftusa.com/ You can download the Adaware home version from a variety of sources for free. I use this one: http://www.lavasoftusa.com/support/download/
You will be sick when you find out just how many people have been monitoring your activities and how much they can glean from your PC. You know when you visit a site and it says it needs to run and install "xxxx" to view the site correctly? Ever say no to that question? Every time you say yes, you are installing someone else's application on YOUR pc. That is yet another way that spyware gets in the door. Some of it is set to install when you answer the question "no". Read teh question and it will say something buried down in the text if you want to install it click on "NO" because so many people will automatically say no without reading the question, that was the easiest way to propogate the use of the spyware. This is very nasty stuff gang.
Big Brother uses spyware to "infect" computers and trace email routes. This is one of the ways in which terror channels are identified and tracked. Some of this stuff is super sophisticated and covert and others are pretty brazen and obvious.
In any case, knowledge is power. You might be very surprised to find out just how much is going on behind the curtin in your PC that you don't know about.