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Communications of the ACM



Anyone who has ever dealt with spyware knows the irritation of lost bandwidth, the frustration of commandeered machine processor cycles, the innumerable pop-up ads and spam trails that result from an infestation. It is indeed a threat to computer security, and yet the sort of maladaptive software application spyware represents is supported by just the sort of wink-and-a-nod online barter economy that seems to nourish the emerging business functions of the Internet worldwide. You "pay for free" by sacrificing (knowingly or not) some personal information or some loss of personal privacy in exchange for great "free" features in software functionality that you can download without paying for or as a "piggybacked" part of some other free applications you might wish to use.

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