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Front Page » March 8, 2005 » Tech Tips » Eliminating Spyware & Adware, Part II
Published 4,370 days ago

Eliminating Spyware & Adware, Part II

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Sun Advocate/Progress Webmaster

Spyware is a major problem in today's computing world. It affects business and residential users alike. It seems as though everyone has either dealt with it, or is highly concerned about it. There are a number of different components of spyware and adware. Here are a few of them:

BHOs. Browser Helper Objects are tiny programs designed to enhance or customize Internet Explorer. Spyware developers will often write BHOs that collect Internet-related information, like website usernames and passwords (like online Banking sites, etc), what web sites you visit, and how often you are online. BHO programs only run when Internet Explorer is running.

Cookies. Cookies are small files stored on your PC that allow web sites to save various pieces of information to your PC. Typically, a legitimate website will use cookies to save such things as shopping cart contents, site display preferences, and other bits of information to personalize your browsing experience. However, many marketing companies use cookies to track what web sites you visit for purposes of marketing research. However, these tracking cookies, as they are often called, cannot allow anyone to view files, passwords or other types of sensitive information on your computer.

Process. Generally speaking, a process is simply a running program. From a spyware perspective, however, a process is a small program that runs in secret, without the user's consent or knowledge. Like BHOs and cookies, these processes collect personal information. However, such processes are typically not limited to online information. In other words, a spyware process can often collect personal information from anywhere on your computer.

Although the perfect spyware solution is far from perfect, spyware management boils down to three simple things: detection, removal and prevention.

Detection and removal can be performed via a spyware scanner of your choice. There are many freeware and commercial scanners to choose from. Good, thorough reviews from reputable sources can be found online (see below for links to several online reviews).

Here are several freeware scanners for Microsoft Windows (in no particular order):

• Lavasoft Ad-Aware SE Personal Edition (commercial version also available)

• Bazooka Adware and Spyware Scanner (free for personal or educational use)

• Spyware Blaster

• Spybot Search & Destroy

Here are several commercial scanners for Microsoft Windows (in no particular order):

• Webroot Spy Sweeper

• Allume Internet Cleanup

• Aluria Spyware Eliminator

• McAfee AntiSpyware

• Norton Antivirus (recent)

• Sunbelt Counterspy

• WinPatrol

According to PCWorld's Spyware Stopper comparison, no single scanner discovered all the spyware. In fact, even with a combination of several scanners on the same PC, much of the spyware went undetected.

Although fighting spyware may seem like an impossible task, there are many things you can do to prevent, or at-least minimize your exposure to spyware and adware:

1) Stop using Microsoft Internet Explorer and switch to a safer alternative, like Mozilla Firefox or Opera

2) Make sure your PC is patched by installing all Windows and Internet Explorer updates via Windows Update (especially if switching Internet browsers isn't an option)

3) Install a spyware remover of choice and run periodic spyware checks

4) Install browser-addons or other pieces of software only from trusted sources

5) Avoid installing software like Kazaa, Morpheus, Grokster, and other commercial file-sharing applications, which often secretly bundle spyware and adware with their software

Combating spyware and adware isn't necessarily an easy task. Many may prefer to call a local computer expert to help them purge the spyware from their PC. Once the computer is clean, some preventative maintenance will go a long way toward keeping the spyware away.

Here are a few spyware removal program comparisons - check online for additional reviews or further information:


Adware Report:

(DISCLAIMER: The Sun Advocate and Emery County Progress are not affiliated with any of the above entities and do not necessarily reflect the opinions shared by these reviews)

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