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How To Remove Spyware From Your PC

This tutorial will show you how to remove spyware from your computer

If it’s about online security, barely a story can go by without mention of two protection essentials : anti-virus products and firewalls. Yet there are other kinds of safety-focused programs hoping to earn a place in your toolbox.

Like a handyman’s favourite gadget, some of these tools have just one or two specialist functions. They can ward off browser hijackers, remove spying software or reject the ploys of hackers.

Most were born of necessity, created by irritated experts, annoyed developers or victims who decided to get their own back.

A friend of mine was a victim of a Trojan – a sneaky program used by hackers to control other people’s computers. It only happened once, however, and my buddy turned the experience into an Australian software success story.

“One of my systems was infected with one of the first remote access Trojans ever released, called NetBus,” says Langlois, who was a security researcher at the time.

“I was made aware that the system was infected when the CD-ROM drive opened on its own and abusive messages started to show on screen – it was quite obvious that somebody was ‘inside’ the system, due to that level of control. You can’t remotely open CD drives, you need to be running inside the system to be able to do that.”

“So, from there it was just a matter of basic forensic analysis to find the culprit file and trace back to the hacker. I was easily able to obtain the hacker’s IP address [a computer’s address on the net], and after I started running scans on his computer he quickly realised that I had found him.”

It was enough to persuade the hacker to leave and to give Langlois a business idea, the result of which is a highly regarded security product called Trojan Defence Suite (TDS). These days, many anti-virus products also detect Trojans, but there’s room for a specialist solution, argues Langlois.

“Viruses and remote access Trojans are physically different, they work differently and they have different approaches to infection.”

“If you’re infected with a Trojan and I connect to your system, I can literally make your computer do anything … I could plant material and then call the police.”

Langlois now leads a team at DiamondCS; the company is the only anti-Trojan system with daily database updates.

TDS is just one of many useful tools that allows internet users to take control of some of the problems they face online.

Hijack defender

Product: Start Page Guard

Website: www.pjwalczak.com/spguard

Some programs and web pages can use malicious code, JavaScript or ActiveX to alter browser settings so a home page is stuck on a particular site – often not a very tasteful one at that! Browser hijacking is particularly a problem for Internet Explorer. Sometimes the solution is as simple as changing the home page yourself. Other times, it’s not so easy. Depending on the hijack technique, the settings can revert back the next time you restart. So, you may have to edit the windows registry (delicate work) or locate a malicious program that’s hiding on your computer.

Piotr J. Walczak’s free program StartPage Guard stops unwanted changes to the browser, including Start and Search pages, and it can get rid of many known offenders. Other tools for protecting your browser’s health can be found at Mike Healan’s anti-spyware site Spywareinfo.com.

Spyware spies Product: Ad-Aware

Website: http://www.lavasoftusa.com/

Okay, not all advertising-supported software is bad, but those systems that aren’t up front about how they work, the information they collect and the resources they drain are certainly giving the rest a bad name. As insidious as the name suggests, “spyware” is a pet hate of internet users (not far behind spam in the unpopularity stakes). Ad-Aware won the gratitude and allegiance of thousands when it offered an easy way to identify and remove all traces of the worst offenders. Happily, Spybot Search & Destroy (spybot.safer-networking.de) is building on the foundations. Both programs are free.

Firewall: ZoneAlarm and ZoneAlarm Pro

Website: http://www.zonelabs.com

Their products have been called everything from “top-notch” to “tour de force” to “the perfect personal firewall.” Symantec’s Norton and the McAfee anti-virus packages adequately counter these threats and are suitable for most home users. But Zone Labs, a San Francisco-based company specializing in computer security, offers a more effective product.free download here http://www.zonelabs.com/store/content/company/products/znalm/freeDownload.jsp

Help with helpers

Product: BHODemon

Website: http://www.definitivesolutions.com/

Browser Helper Objects (BHOs) are small programs that run whenever you start the browser. They can be helpful and powerful, but as with most good things, there’s a dark side, too. Privacy exponents worry that these can be installed without a user’s knowledge and put in place by another program. For example, the notorious Go!Zilla program uses a BHO to track advertisements surfers see. The free program BHODemon from Definitive Solutions lets users manage BHOs, see which ones are installed, what they’re up to and offers to disable them.

The Trojan horseman

Product: Trojan Defence Suite

Website: tds.diamondcs.com.au

History buffs will know of the Trojan horse. In a computer, a Trojan stealthily provides a hacker with means into your files and ultimately control of the system as if they were seated in front of it.

TDS can identify more than 8000 Trojans (plus 10,000 or so variants) and promises to raise the alarm even if a previously unknown program starts behaving suspiciously. It costs $49 for a single user. Other Trojan fighters include Trojan Hunter, BOClean and The Cleaner.

Health checks

Product: ShieldsUP!

Website: grc.com

The creator of the first spyware removal tool (the predecessor of Ad-Aware), Gibson Research Corporation offers a variety of tools, but the most popular is a security check-up called ShieldsUP!, which is free and performed online. There are plenty of other bits and pieces to interest the security conscious. One is a LeakTest – a testing tool to check if your firewall can be easily tricked. Another colourfully named Windows utility is UnPlug n’ Pray, which will automatically disable a service Gibson says is downright dangerous.

Symantec Antivirus Research Center

Latest Virus Threats Security Advisories Download Virus Definitions Download latest updates to security related software Use Symantec’s two online tools, security check and Virus scan Download virus removal tools for specific viruses that have become prevalent in recent years Read FAQs, articles, and more documents on security measures SARC can be found at: http://www.sarc.com

Spybot S&D – 100% Free

Here is another very intensive Spyware removal tool, that also has several other features built in. Here is a short about page of the product: http://www.safer-networking.org/index.php?lang=en&page=about Also, there have been three or four (or more Now) rip-offs of this program, and he has a list here: http://www.safer-networking.org/ So, obviously, don’t use those other products – use the original.

SpywareGuard

SpywareGuard provides a real-time protection solution against spyware that is a great addition to SpywareBlaster’s protection method. An anti-virus program scans files before you open them and prevents execution if a virus is detected – SpywareGuard does the same thing, but for spyware! And you can easily have an anti-virus program running alongside SpywareGuard. SpywareGuard now also features Download Protection and Browser Hijacking Protection! http://www.wilderssecurity.net/spywareguard.html There are other great security sites out there. Wilders.org Security Advisors has a great listing of security products, including free anti-virus tools, anti-virus add-ons and firewall accessories such as report-makers and log analysers. Meanwhile, The Home PC Firewall Guide’s motto says it all: The internet is a hostile network like the Wild West without a sheriff.