How many spyware items could
be infecting your computer
and how to get rid of them?
Perhaps this happened to you, as it did to me. I just had, by mistake, a plug-in
called Intelligent Explorer attach to my browser -
see my other article on this topic. What a nightmare! It's another subject, but this brings home a point - the
spyware problem, an annoying and time consuming exercise in futility.
Growing spyware problem
Spyware or adware items are continually infecting computers in an increasing
number. Most computers have no protection from them. Most frightening is the frequency of them, where such programs
get downloaded unnoticed with other "bona fide" programs or files.
From the InfosecWriters web site, "According to a 2004 survey by America Online
and the National Cyber Security Alliance, 91% of users questioned were familiar with the term spyware. Only 53%
believed their computers were infected, but a scan found that 80% of their PCs had some type of spyware installed
on them." It goes on to say, "...The average number of spyware components per computer was 93 with one computer
having well over a thousand."
What is Spyware?
Butte College (www.bctv.butte.edu/support/spyware.html)
Computer spyware is often hidden in adware, designed to spy on your
online surfing habits
offers this definition:
"The term ‘spyware’ is broadly defined as any program that gets into your computer
without permission and hides in the background while it makes unwanted changes to your user experience.
Spyware is generally not designed to damage your computer. The damage it does is
more a by-product of its main mission, which is to serve you targeted advertisements or make your browser display
certain sites or search results.
At present, most spyware targets only the Windows operating system (Internet
To be fair, spyware can be harmless, for example tracking cookies don’t do much.
While such things infringe on your privacy, they don't really harm anything. Others, however, are extremely
The list of top 6 anti spyware tools
No anti spyware program seems to do everything, but there are a lot of goods
solutions out there that can help. Here is a list of some of the top Spyware tools to look at:
1) Try Ad-Aware
6.0 Professional from LavaSoft (there is also a free version
with less functionality, but also very useful and effective)
Search & Destroy from PepiMK Software
3) Xoftspy form Pareto Logic
Patrol (now part of Computer Associates by
Guard from Javacool Software is a free program
The difference between spyware
One thing is for certain: you do need to take spyware seriously. For some reason,
too many people out there think anti-virus solutions are the end-all solution. They are not. Because they don't
deal with spyware problem and often can't detect it.
While computer virus can and often does attack computer system openly (therefore
being immediately and more noticeable), spyware on the other hand tend to work quietly in the background, and often
goes unnoticed until it's done its damage. Any of the above mentioned ani spyware programs are very effective in
uncovering spyware on your computer.
And, when all else fails?
Finally, as drastic as it seems, if your computer has been infected with a large
number of spyware programs, the only solution you may have is backing up your data, and performing a complete
reinstall of the operating system.
Computer Spyware Articles:
- Adware - When you use your computer for
online work, reasearch and entertainment, you will end up with adware being installed ony our computer without
your consent. These could be harmless tracking programs, or nasty monitors of your online
- Botnets - This is probably one of the works threats to your computer
system, difficult to locate and even harder to delete when infection occurs. Botnets are often used by hackers
to infiltrate computers and use them as a network to propagate viruses and spam, to infect other
- Spyware - Often used in advertising, these spying programs infest possibly
some 80% of computers, mostly unknown to their owners. Often a dozen or more of spyware programs can be found
on any computer, tracking user's online habits.
- CounterSpy - Being generally a nuissance, spyware is a booming industry,
using agressive advertising and spying tactics on you. One of the best spyware removal programs is CounterSpy,
by Sunbelt Software.
Programs - You already have learned that many spware programs could be infesting your
computer right now. There are 3 basic ways in which you get these programs: freeware and shareware, deceptive
downloads, and security holes.
- Intelligent Explorer - Although a rare threat today, masquerading as
Internet Explorer toolbar, this deceptive software program will generate a lot of unwanted popups and downloads
without your permission.
Remover Programs - Spyware programs track your internet usage, collect personal data,
and spawn popup advertisements. This can cause your computer to slow down, or worse. Windows Spyware Remover,
Ad-Aware, and Spybot can all help you delete spyware from your computer.