by David Hakala

First there was spam to exploit your email inbox. Then there came pop-up ads on Web sites to make browsing a nightmare. Then marketers figured out how to use a built-in Windows 2000 and XP service to zap their wares directly to your desktop. So did distributors of virii and other malware.

Windows Messenger is a Microsoft-proprietary instant messaging client that is enabled by default. So is its 2005 successor, Windows Live Messenger. Both IM clients have legitimate uses, primarily in corporate and online gaming environments. But most home and small business users don’t need to leave this back door open for bad things to enter.
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