04/06/10 - Article No: 97

Best Rated Spyware Removal Tools

This article looks at the dangers of spyware and malware when installed on a victims computer, and we recommend some great products to remove spyware from your computer.

This article discusses the basics of spyware, how to know you have dangerous spyware software installed on your computer and how to get rid of such software using spyware removal tools, and we also recommend such highly rated removal tools at the end of the article. Many Internet users do not have adequate protection installed on their computer, and if you believe you are one of them, we strongly recommend reading through this article and taking a look at the products we review at the end.

In this article -
What is Spyware?
Symptoms of Spyware
Best Rated Spyware Removal Tools

What is Spyware?


Spyware is a type of malware that, as you would expect, generally spies on the activities of the user on whatever computer is has been installed on. Like all malware, it is unwanted software, much similar to a computer virus. Because spyware spies on a users activities, it only constitutes a part of the overall threat, since there is no point spying on someone and not doing anything about it. It is used in conjunction with other malware, such as keysniffers which log passwords and other confidential information, or used with adware which then bombard the user with pop-ups based on their online activity. It can also be used along side much more dangerous and intrusive malware such as browser hijackers, scareware and exploits, which can steal confidential information, change computer settings and fool users into downloading or even paying for other harmful or wasteful files and applications.

Basically, you never want spyware on your computer. It is a hassle, a security breach and potentially very dangerous. It can install itself in a variety of ways, much similar to the average computer virus, such as through websites, email attachments and through any file you download from the Internet or external storage device (e.g. a CD).

Symptoms of Spyware


The following symptoms will help you know when you have spyware installed

- Pop-ups – Spyware and Adware are a popular combination. The spyware aspect will spy on your online activities, such as the websites the victim visits, and the Adware aspect will serve up related advertisements in the form of pop up ads. Pop ups are extremely intrusive and annoying, and are one of the more obvious signs that a computer has been infected.

- Computer Performance - Spyware is typically designed to hide itself from the user of the computer in an attempt to avoid detection and hence removal. However is cannot hide itself from a computers processor which still has to process all of the tasks the spyware needs done. This means users may experience a slower performance in their computer than usual. The more spyware and other malware installed on the computer, the slower the performance. With computers becoming faster and faster every year however, slower performance is something that is becoming harder to detect and computers are becoming better at handling multiple tasks without compromising in performance.

- Emails - Spyware can also work alongside software which automatically send out emails without your permission. Users often first realise this when they find several “bounced back” emails in their inbox where emails were automatically sent out to older redundant emails in the victims address book only to get directed back to the victim. Users with free web based email like Hotmail often find themselves victim to this type of attack, often dubbed "spamware".

- New Desktop Shortcuts - Spyware being installed on a victims computer often leads to shortcuts being placed on the victims desktop. These shortcuts often lead to dangerous websites or websites that promote the products created by the people responsible for the malware. Often its pornography or gambling websites. Only you or programs you install can create desktop shortcuts, so if some appear without your consent, you most likely have malware. The same applies to the Favorites list in your browser.

- New Toolbars - when installed onto your computer, toolbars can do a wide variety of tasks, including helping provide pop-up ads, directing users to unwanted websites and tricking users into giving away personal information. Toolbars invariably appear near the top of the Internet browser window. Again, like desktop shortcuts, only you can install such toolbars, so if new toolbars are appearing without your knowledge, you may be in trouble.

- No Control of Browser - Having spyware installed on your computer can often lead to having some sort of hijacker installed on your computer as well. This means that the victim will experience control issues when trying to surf online. This can include being directed to unwanted websites or not being allowed to go to certain websites such as security related websites.

- Virus Warnings - This is more directed at scareware scams but is on the rise so still really important. This is where victims are bombarded with virus warnings and requests to install anti-virus software to fix the problem. However the files the victim is being urged to download is actually further malware.

- Internet Performance - Because spyware needs to communicate what is finds with the scammer, it will constantly need to transmit data and possibly receive data as well. This means that users may experience slower Internet performance because much of the bandwidth will be used by the spyware. This symptom can also be given away by the router or modem activity light constantly flickering despite the user not doing anything on the Internet.

- Antivirus Does not Open - spyware and other types of malware are designed to stay on a victims computer even if they have been detected, meaning that in the interest of self preservation, they are often designed to close down any antivirus and spyware removal software and prevent them from being reopened. If the victim cannot open antivirus software, then getting rid of spyware will be difficult.

- Random Errors or Behaviour - Internet users are always advised to be on the lookout for strange behaviour from their computer which can indicate a spyware infection. This can include random error messages, a computer restarting or shutting down unexpectedly, automated tasks being performed on social networking sites or certain programs not working correctly.


Best Rated Spyware Removal Tools


To remove spyware, the user first has to have good antivirus software or spyware removal software. If none is installed, or if the user is only using poor quality software or demo versions, then the malware infection will not only remain on the victims computer but is likely to get worse since spyware can act as a gateway for more malware.

This is why it is critical to scan your computer straight away if you suspect you have spyware installed. If you haven’t got any adequate software installed, here are our two recommendations of great rated spyware removal software.



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