While viruses are typically designed to cause damage or corruption, spyware operates in a radically different manner. In some cases, the operation of spyware components may be so subtle that you do not even realize you are infected.
At it's worst, a spyware infection will attempt to capture your personal information without you even knowing it. In addition to stealing your personal information, spyware can contribute to identity theft and system crashes.
There is no shortage of tools out there that claim to help you eliminate spyware but some of these are extremely disreputable products that may end up doing more harm than good. Let's take a look at some of the better ones.
Windows Defender is a free program that helps protect your computer against pop-ups, slow performance, and security threats caused by spyware and other unwanted software. It features Real-Time Protection, a monitoring system that recommends actions against spyware when it's detected and minimizes interruptions and helps you stay productive.
Now with 2 free support incidents for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Windows Defender is a decent tool, and well worth the installation on windows XP if you do not have any real time protection installed. It does not pick up as many threats as some other software on the market, so it is a good idea to use it in conjunction with some other on-demand scanners.
Webroot Spy Sweeper quickly provides maximum protection with minimal interaction. Our completely upgraded user interface makes it easier than ever for users of all abilities to stay protected. With an easy-to-use console and customizable options, Webroot Spy Sweeper makes scanning for spyware a breeze. Thorough tests have proven that SpySweeper is one of the most comprehensive tools for locating and removing spyware from an infected system. It rarely fails to remove targeting code and does a good job of avoiding tagging legitimate applications as malware. It is a bit slower than Spyware Doctor, especially when running a full system scan, but as you can schedule scans to run when you're not using your PC this need not be a problem.
Spyware, adware, browser hijackers, and dialers are some of the fastest-growing threats on the Internet today. Prevent the installation of ActiveX-based spyware, adware, browser hijackers, dialers, and other potentially unwanted software. Block spyware / tracking cookies in Internet Explorer and Mozilla / Firefox. Restrict the actions of potentially unwanted sites in Internet Explorer. SpywareBlaster can help keep your system spyware-free and secure, without interfering with the "good side" of the web.
Spyware Blaster (like all other anti-spyware tools) operates using definition files so it is worth checking on a constant basis to see if yours are up to date. Spyware Blaster can effectively immunize your PC against many different types of attacks making this a very strong contenter.
Free 100% Real-Time Protection is included in Spyware Terminator basic version – an essential function most other applications charge you extra for. Effectively remove spyware, adware, trojans, keyloggers, home page hijackers and other malware threats. Every option the program has to offer is freely accessible in the free version, giving you all the benefits of commercial software. Spyware Terminator offers everything you could want from an anti-spyware tool – it is polished and full of features. All in all a very impressive piece of freeware.
Spybot Search and Destroy
Alongside of Ad-Aware, Spybot is one of the most established tools available. Spybots most stand out feature is the functions it offers for preventing spyware from infecting your PC. Click the immunize function and you will be able to protect your system against known Malware domains. These functions are passive and do not require any software running in the background.
Spybot is free; highly configurable; automatic updates; built-in tutorial, but it missed five known spyware apps in our tests, and we received no e-mail response from its technical support crew. Spybot is both free and adaptable for both beginning and power users, but it left behind some known spyware apps.
Ad-Aware 2007 Free
Ad-Aware has been helping PC users eliminate malicious software for many years now and has been a firm favorite of ours for a long time. The 2007 Free version brings the program up to date with a more user friendly interface and, more importantly, an enhanced scanning engine. Lavasoft claims that the redesigned engine is now more accurate and better able to detect evasive threats, such as rootkits. A full scan takes a long time but again you could run this at times when you are not using your machine. If you want to keep your Vista PC spyware free, you'll need to look elsewhere at least for the time being.
PC Tools Spyware Doctor
Spyware Doctor has been downloaded over 100 Million times; with a million more downloads every week. Millions of people worldwide use Spyware Doctor to protect their identity and PC security. Spyware Doctor has consistently been awarded Editors' Choice, by leading PC magazines and testing laboratories around the world, including United States, United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany and Australia. All current versions of Spyware Doctor have won Editors' Choice awards from PC Magazine in United States. In addition, after leading the market in 2005, Spyware Doctor was awarded the most favorable of the Year at the end of 2005.
Spyware Doctor continues to be awarded the highest honors by many of the worlds leading PC publications such as PC Pro, PC Plus, PC Authority, PC Utilities, PC Advisor, PC Choice, Microdatorn, PC Answers Magazine plus number of reputable 5-star ratings including CNET's Download.com and Tucows. Of all the other applications we reviewed, Spyware Doctor consistently outforms the competition in terms of it's scanning engine, successfully identifying and removing more threats than any other tool. It is also very accurate so you should not experience problems with legitimate tools being misidentified as harmfull. This is a piece of software that everyone who is a broadband internet user should have on their PC.
Source by John Chino