An Introduction To Spyware
Spyware has to be the biggest bane of modern computing in recent years. It's that annoying and prevalent because 90% of the PCs I fix these days have problems stemming from spyware. Do note that the term spyware is, in my view, is a bit misleading. Spyware do not just “spy” on you. They are generally much more malicious.
Ever asked yourself why every time you start up your Internet browser, it automatically loads a search engine you've never heard of? Or why advertisements keep popping up all over your screen? Your Internet browser may even spout alien tool bars which you do not remember installing. Even more sinisterly, your PC seems to be getting slower and slower all the time. If you want to finger someone for the blame, you will be right most of the time if you blame spyware.
Spyware comes in many forms. Some don't even need user intervention to install themselves on your PC as they slip into your PC through security holes in your operating system and Internet browsers. These are particulaly hard to catch, although you can prevent them by keeping your software updated.
Most spyware are motivated by greed, pure and simple. Some spyware are written to push people to visit a referral-paying website, or launch advertisements from that website. This is just one of many reasons why people make spyware, and why it's such a lucrative business. If Baruch Spinoza was right, wealth is one of those things that people willingly seek at the expense of others, with no burden to their conscience.
Because spyware can come in any form these days, defining a spyware is not simple. Spyware often gets confused with trojans and viruses. Of course, in some cases, spyware do have attributes of either trojans or viruses. Not to worry though, you don't really need a de jure standard definition of spyware to be rid of them. All that matters is really getting rid of these pesky little critters and getting your PC back in shape. Now, let's go hunting!
Diagnosis & Removal
If you notice a loss of performance in your computer, constant overuse of your computer resources (like CPU usage, memory, hard drive trashing), hundreds of concurrent connections and other unusual activity. For more information on detailed diagnostics and manual methods for hunting potential pests in your PC, scoot along to the Diagnosis section posted earlier.
A-Squared Free Scan
Spybot Search & Destroy
For the rest of us, we can leave out the advanced, manual methods and use anti-spyware tools to weed them out. Just run one of the many spyware-detecting software in the market (many are even free!) and they will help you remove most, if not all, of these pesky little buggers. It doesn't get any easier than this.
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