Seems that recently I've been cleaning out several of my friends computers because of massive, and I mean massive spyware "infections".
Don't know what spyware is? See if any of this sounds familiar:
- Pop-up windows appear for no reason, even though you have a pop-up blocker and the browser is not even running.
- The web browser (Internet Explorer) runs very, very, very slowly and it didn't used to. Every time you visit a web site, your computer has to "think about it" for a long time.
- You will get prompted to "install software" for absolutely no reason - and even after you "installed" it (which you shouldn't have in the first place), you are still prompted to install it over and over again.
How do you get spyware? Basically, you get it by downloading/installing dumb stuff, such as:
- KaZaa (which is LOADED with spyware)
- MySearch bar
..and there are tons of other ones.
How do you get rid of them?
There are three tools I use to get rid of spyware permanently:
Ad-Aware can be used by anyone. Very easy to use.
Bazooka Spyware Scanner is for more advanced users - and yes it does catch things Ad-Aware will not.
HijackThis! is for expert users only. Not recommended unless you really know what you're doing - but - it will fix your computer up real proper like. This is the only utility I know of that will get rid of every single app "taskbar icon" at the bottom right next to the clock.
You can easily AVOID spyware if you do the following:
1. Never use P2P (Peer-to-peer) "sharing" programs like Kazaa or Bearshare. They are chock full of spyware apps like SaveNow.
2. If Internet Explorer ever prompts you to install anything, don't. Don't do it.
3. Who says you have to use Internet Explorer? Use Mozilla instead! It's free! Does the same job, works just as well. Remember, most spyware is designed for the flaws in Internet Explorer. When you don't use it, you'll notice that a lot of web pages load much, much faster.
4. Never ever open any attachments in e-mail unless it's from someone you really know well. When you open attachments, even if it "looks important", it's probably just another virus or spyware app. Don't be fooled.
How bad can it get?
I just cleaned out a friend's computer that had 1800+ (not a misprint) spyware related files, plus a pop-up that would not go away, AND an app that would constantly try to install itself over and over. Took 2 hours to clean it out.
Spyware... don't let it happen to you! 🙂
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