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Anti-Spyware Strategies, Part 1: Clean Out Your System

Spyware is one of the most challenging — and frustrating — problems faced by today's computer users and administrators. Even the savviest Internet surfers have discovered their systems are riddled with unwanted software that display popup ads, modify their search engines or home pages, slow down performance or even make the system unstable.


Anti-Spyware Strategies, Part 1


•  Introduction

•  Step One: Back Up Your Data


•  Step Two: Look Around

•  Step Three: Choose An Anti-Spyware App

•  Step Four: If All Else Fails

•  Image Gallery: Clearing Restore Points

One major problem is in defining just what spyware is. Because there is no official definition of spyware, it's not unusual to see a company claiming its download is "spyware-free," even though its setup program installs additional unwanted software. Depending on the specific actions that the software takes, it could be classified as a hijacker, worm, Trojan, adware, or a viral marketing program.

Whatever the intruder is called, it doesn't benefit the user or the computer. It's just there for the benefit — and profit — of the company that made it. And the longer that software stays installed, the more money that company makes. How?

  • Popup ads: After tracking your activities on the Internet, the software displays ads for similar sites or forces the browser to go to related Web sites.
  • Commission theft: The software rewrites cookies or links to steal ad commissions from sites that you visit and send them to the spyware company instead.
  • Search engine hijacking: Instead of showing search results from a site such as Google, the software redirects you to search results that are controlled by advertisers.
  • Blackmail: After installation, the software displays warnings that the computer is infected by spyware and offers ads or links to their own spyware cleaners.
  • Spamming: The software sends emails in your name, or appends messages to your outgoing emails, promoting their products.
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