Many users have begun to turn to Spyware
and Adware detection-and-removal programs have become essencial
tools for the average Internet user, in a similar way antivirus
are needed to protect their privacy and their systems.
Spyware has surpassed viruses as the
number one threat facing your computer today. Estimates report
that 90 percent of computers already have been infiltrated by
spyware, which is the name given to any program that installs
itself on your hard drive, collects personal information about
you and your computer habits, then sends it to a third party
without your knowledge.
Spyware gets into your system by several
paths and ways. It can come bundled with another program and
automatically install along with the other software. Spyware also
can get a foothold on your system through the advertising used in
some free software, such as peer-to-peer programs like Kazaa and
Morpheus. This type of spyware is known as adware.
Another entry method is when you visit
certain Web sites that install spyware cookies on your hard
drive. While many cookies are completely harmless, others
function like adware and gather details about the sites you
visit. Also, a malicious person can intentionally install spyware
on your computer. These programs, called keyloggers, record every
site you visit, every e-mail you send and every chat conversation
you carry on.
Spyware detection can be challenging, in
part because new versions of spyware are always being released.
Eliminating spyware requires constant monitoring and updating,
for this there are several good tools that will do this
automatically and some are free.
Lavasoft's Ad-Aware 6.1
Pull the plug on adware and spyware with the latest version of
Lavasoft's freeware tool, called Ad-aware (download). Ad-aware scans your system -- including
removable drives -- for the most common types of advertising
spyware and safely removes offending software. Currently, the
utility detects small spyware programs from many common
The latest version of the software features a slick user
interface as well as safeguards for users who may be overzealous
in removing adware or spyware components. Because many
advertising-supported programs will not function if you remove
their ad modules, you might occasionally want to overrule an
earlier decision to remove one of these components.
The latest release addresses this problem in two ways: It
stores adware components in your Recycle Bin, where you can later
retrieve them; and it provides a backup archive viewer for
reviewing -- and, if necessary, restoring -- components you've
removed. One other good feature in this latest release: It lets
you search for new reference files automatically when Ad-aware is
started, which means Ad-aware can keep itself up to date for
Spybot Search and Destroy 1.2
Another popular free tool is Patrick Kolla's SpyBot Search and
Destroy (download). With it, you can search your hard disk
for so-called spybots or adbots, the modules that are responsible
for showing ads and transmitting information back to vendors. If
Spybot Search and Destroy finds such modules, it will remove them
or replace them with empty dummies.
In most cases, the host software -- like Morpheus or Kazaa --
will still run after removing the adbots. Among the adbots Spybot
targets are Aureate, Comet Cursors, Gator, GoHip, Radiate,
WebHancer and WildTangent.
Spybot also removes your usage tracks -- including
last-visited Web sites, opened files, started programs and
cookies -- so even spybots that are unknown can't transmit this
private information. The program supports three major browsers:
Internet Explorer, Netscape Communicator and Opera.
X-Cleaner Freeware Version 2004
Unlike viruses, which can operate from anywhere on your
system, spyware needs to hook into your Windows registry to do
its dirty deeds. X-Cleaner (
download), published by XBlock.com Privacy Software, knows
the hooks spyware uses and where to look for them.
X-Cleaner does not scan your entire hard disk -- which can
take hours -- but zeroes in on the locations used by the spyware.
This way, detection can happen very quickly.
For general cleaning options, the software uses low-level
calls to Windows to clear and cache the required information in
memory. These techniques, combined with optimized 32-bit code,
make the software one of the fastest programs in the
Spy Sweeper, published by WebRoot Software, is an
award-winning utility that can effectively detect and remove
spyware from your PC to protect you from identity theft, browser
hijackers, hackers, keyloggers and Trojans. This software is not
freeware, but the company does offer a trial version that will work for a full
month. Beyond that, the company charges a fee for the software,
which is updated regularly to find new spyware threats or adware
Spy Sweeper scans your entire system using an evolving
database of thousands of known spyware threats. You can perform a
scan manually or schedule regular scans. Spy Sweeper owners are
regularly prompted to download updated spyware definitions to
ensure up-to-date protection from new threats, which emerge
If any files or traces of spyware match the threat definitions
database, Spy Sweeper immediately quarantines them. Quarantining
disables spyware functionality for immediate protection while
giving you the option to review and permanently delete suspect
files or safely restore them if they are essential to the
operation of desirable applications. Spy Sweeper proactively
monitors and protects your system memory, home page and new
cookie additions for added peace of mind.
Trojan Guarder Golden Version 5.0
Trojan Guarder is a variant of the spyware-busting utility. It
looks specifically for Trojans to eliminate them from your
system. The software is not free, but the company does offer a trial version.
Even if you have an antivirus system and firewall, you still
are not safe from Trojans, which could be recording all your
passwords and credit card numbers without your knowledge. At its
basic level, a Trojan can record every key pressed on the
keyboard together with the username and password when you access
any computer network. Trojans also can listen on certain Windows
ports, giving hackers complete access to your system through the
open back door.
Trojan Guarder's system is called Guard Ghost. It supervises
all running processes in memory, Windows files and open ports to
search for worms and Trojan horses. Once a Trojan or worm
appears, even if it hides in other programs, Trojan Guarder will
display a signal for warning and eliminate it.
Meanwhile, Trojan Guarder also will clear all Trojan-linked
files as well as related registered files.