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Spyware Removers & Antispyware

Everyone who owns or uses a computer knows about computer viruses or at least has heard of them. What about worms? Not so familiar. And then there is spyware.

What Is Computer Spyware?

Computer spyware is any computer software placed onto your computer for the purpose of supplying information to an outside source without your knowledge or consent. Only a small number of internet users understand spyware programs, how they work and the security threat computer spyware poses.

Unlike viruses, which are designed to be either disruptive or destructive, some computer spyware has actually been designed with good intentions in mind. This presents a dilemma, because the very nature of computer spyware is invasive. How does one determine which spyware is benevolent and which is malicious, and how do you screen out the bad while leaving the good?

The difference between good and bad computer spyware lies within the distinction between collecting information and stealing it. While there are some who would argue that no information should be collected from internet users under any circumstances, practicality dictates that this not be so. Without data collection, internet commerce could not exist; credit card numbers and shipping addresses, for example, are two types of information that may be required to complete a purchase. In fact, the internet itself could not exist for public use under a cloak of absolute privacy because information must be passed back and forth simply to establish an internet connection to your home or a link to a website.

Concern, then, lies not so much with regard to data collection, but with the type of information collected, the manner in which it is acquired, and the intent behind its use. Software programs designed to defeat computer spyware, referred to as spyware removers, spyware cleaners, spyware eliminators, spyware killers, spyware nukers, spyware blasters, spyware blockers or antispyware (anti-spyware), offer various levels of spyware detection. Antispyware software can determine whether a computer program or cookie is spyware by how it behaves, but will never be able to determine intent.

How Does Spyware Get on My Computer?

One of the worst features of computer spyware is that your antivirus software cannot detect or defeat spyware because you grant spyware access to your computer. Of course, you do not do this willingly; computer spyware typically rides in on the back of another program you download or gains access through security holes in your browser. You will not even know it is there unless you observe unusual traffic in your firewall logs or if your computer begins to run slowly, misbehave or crash (all common side effects of computer spyware). Once in your system, spyware can do anything from tracking and reporting your movements as you surf the internet (known as keystroke logging) to altering your browser settings to (worst case scenario) intercepting credit card numbers, passwords and other personal information you may enter into your computer or have stored on your hard drive.

Spyware Removers and Antispyware

Nearly everyone has this nasty junk on their computers. At Ten Spider Enterprises, we employ Spybot Search & Destroy to maintain proper spyware security. We have found Spybot-S&D to be an excellent spyware remover. When run with its Resident TeaTimer protection and updated regularly, Spybot-S&D provides a high level of spyware protection. Combining this attribute with ease of use and free download and updates has earned Spybot-S&D our TEN SPIDER ENTERPRISES RECOMMENDED PRODUCT designation.

Is Spyware Ever Useful?

As mentioned above, not all computer spyware is malicious or invasive. Merchants use spyware (in the form of browser cookies) to track your purchases and activity at their websites so they may serve you better and provide proper compensation to advertisers or affiliates who have directed you to their sites. This is a legitimate use of the technology. Removal of such tracking may be counterproductive and unfair to those who attempt to make a living through pay-for-performance advertising. But when data mining entities track your internet surfing habits without your knowledge or consent, the line has been crossed. This is a definite invasion of your privacy. It is done every day.

How Do I Protect Myself Against Spyware?

Finally, it should be mentioned that shareware, freeware, browser toolbars, Trojan Horse viruses and unfamiliar websites, especially some country-specific websites, are typical sources of computer spyware. While there are many other sources, these are especially notorious as spyware carriers. Before you download or install a product whose source is not familiar, even if your friend Joe recommends it as being “really cool”, always perform an internet search to ascertain whether other computer users are complaining about the product. While this is no guarantee that your computer will remain free of infestation, diligence combined with a good spyware remover certainly improves your chances of maintaining a threat-free computer and internet environment.

Authored by Kenneth L. Anderson.  Original article published 30 April 2003, updated 13 September 2005.

Ten Spider Enterprises would like you to understand threats that exist on the internet and how you can properly react to these internet threats to keep your computer and personal information safe. Follow links to the right to learn about sources of information relating to computer spyware, spyware removers and other antispyware topics. Our Security Software section provides additional solutions to help secure your computer against internet threats. In particular, good free security software can be obtained through our Security Software section for personal use, although in most cases business users are required to purchase. Computer security does not have to be difficult; it does require diligence.

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