Yahoo rolled out a test version of a browser add-on that can help Web users shield their surfing habits from spyware.

Called Anti-Spy, the new software, released Thursday as part of a revised version of Yahoo's free, downloadable browser toolbar, is supposed to help keep snoops and hackers from using hidden surveillance programs to peer over the shoulders of unsuspecting users as they roam the Web.

Anti-Spy uses technology from the spyware fighters at Carlisle, Pa.-based PestPatrol Inc. This software automatically downloads a list of known spyware offenders, then checks for their presence on a user's computer whenever that user requests a spyware scan. Anti-Spy can then uproot whatever spyware applications it finds.

The toolbar -- it runs only in Windows versions of Microsoft's Internet Explorer -- is still in a beta-test state at the moment, a status that sometimes means risking the possibility of crashes. Yahoo didn't say when it expects the test to conclude, but curious customers can download it off the Web portal's site (

"We felt like the toolbar was the right place to make this available to consumers," said Stephanie Ichinose, spokeswoman for Yahoo. "It rounds out the circle of helping consumers manage their online experience."

The Yahoo toolbar, like most of these browser add-ons, also contains a shortcut for Web searches (conducted through Yahoo's search engine in this case) and a pop-up ad blocker.

AOL Updates Netscape

America Online said this week that a new version of the Netscape browser is in the works and due for a release this summer. This does not appear to mark a fresh influx of interest in the browser from AOL, however; a spokesman for the company said the update will feature "no substantive changes" and will mainly add security updates into the browser.

Starting a few years ago, Netscape browser development has shifted to an open-source version of the browser called Mozilla; the new AOL-released version will essentially repackage Mozilla in Netscape colors.

Monster Gets Ticklish

Monster Worldwide Inc., parent company of the job site, announced Monday that it has acquired networking site Tickle Inc. (

Tickle, not quite a household name, is probably better known as an online matchmaker than as a go-to place for job-seekers. The company's site also offers all sorts of wacky tests that generally seem like they could have come from the pages of Cosmo ("Are You a Secure Lover?" or "Which 'American Idol' Are You?"). Monster hopes to expand its network among folks checking out Tickle's job-aptitude quizzes.

Napster Goes North

Napster, the Roxio Inc.-owned music service, has begun to expand internationally. Two weeks ago, Roxio made the subscription and a la carte music download service available in Britain, and last week it opened its virtual doors in Canada.

In opening these two international services, Napster has jumped ahead of Apple Computer's iTunes online music store -- still available only in the United States, although Apple has said it plans to make the iTunes store available in Europe sometime this year.

E-mail Mike Musgrove at Leslie Walker is away.