June 4, 2012

How to Detect and Remove Spyware from Your PC

How to Detect and Remove Spyware from Your PC

Spyware is computer software that infects your pc and typically displays pop ups, changes your homepage, inserts other ads and even could possibly be additionally malicious. To start off you have to ask yourself do you have spyware? Is your browser loading pages that you didn’t click on? Did is your PC acting funny? Does your browser have a new toolbar? These are just a few of the things you might notice if your personal computer is infected with spyware. Now you will need to work to remove it.

You can start by downloading a couple free removal tools. Hijack This will do a good job at detecting inconsistencies as well as Browser Helper Objects or BHOs. Spybot Search and Destroy and Lavasoft’s Ad Aware are two similar packages that will also help detect, protect and remove harmful or even just irritating spyware items from your personal computer. Microsoft also has a package that is a virus scanner and spyware removes called “Microsoft Security Essentials”. It works well with windows and updates regularly with Windows Update. All of these software packages are available for free and you shouldn’t use any site that asks you to pay to use them.

One options is to find all of these applications be searching for them, navigating to their respective web pages, finding the right download, then saving and downloading as well as installing. But there is a better option, all of these items can be found at a website called “ninite.com” where it allows you to build a single custom installer just by checking the software you want. You may find other items that could possibly be very helpful in the removal of spyware as well as new software that could possibly be beneficial to you. Once you have the spyware removed it’s a good idea to use a browser like Firefox or Google Chrome that can help protect you against additional attacks or issues down the road.

Finding Software for Download

A Chumby downloading new software.
Image via Wikipedia

In the technology age, just about everything runs on software. As such, people are constantly looking for software for download to make work easier, or even just for entertainment. Whatever the reason for downloading software, knowing where to look is always important.

Knowing where to find software for download is almost as important as the software itself. There are many reasons why this is so. Of course, one of the most important reasons is to avoid downloading viruses or other malware. No one wants to download something onto their computer or other device that will cause problems.

Knowing where to find the right software makes the process easy and less time consuming. Otherwise, it takes lots of time searching online for just the right site from which to download what is needed. Once possible sites are located, they still have to be checked to ensure that they are trustworthy.

How to Evaluate Sites Offering Software for Download

Not every site that offers software should be used. While most will be pose no problems, you cannot just assume that downloading software is always safe. Before downloading it is always a good idea to evaluate the site. Some ways to do this include:

  1. Choosing Reputable Sites: There are many sites that are well-known in the industry. They should be the first choice when it comes to downloading programs. Any site offering software that is not recognized should be researched first.
  2. Reading Reviews: Website users sometimes post their reviews and experiences online. Read reviews of companies and the software they are offering before downloading anything they have. This will save you from grief later on if the software does not live up to expectations.

There are lots of different types of software for download available online. With a little patience and care, it is possible to find just want you need for most purposes.

What is Spyware?

Example of firewall function: Blocking spyware...
Image via Wikipedia

Spyware can be a huge problem these days. Spyware is physically capable of infecting nearly all computers, and so this means that you are at risk regardless of what type of computer you are using or what you are doing on the internet. Users can get spyware unintentionally just by visiting websites linked from search engines that are designed to infect users. Unfortunately there are many different ways that you can unintentionally infect your computer with spyware and other types of malicious software like adware and viruses.

A common tactic that websites use in order to infect your computer with spyware is to tell you that you have won something and that you only need to “click here” to accept. Another such idea might be to create a website dialog that looks like it is coming from your computer, but it will actually be coming from the infecting website, tricking you into launching something harmful for your computer without realizing it. Many websites will even launch pop ups that look like they are scanning your PC for spyware for absolutely free. They tell you that they have found an infection, and if you download their software you can remove the virus or infection, only you end up installing spyware or other malicious software instead.

Aside from obtaining reputable spyware software in order to clean your personal computer up after an infection, one of the best things you can do is simply to make sure that your computer is fully up to date with the latest service packs and hot fixes from the manufacturer of your operating system. Additionally, using third party browsers such as Google’s Chrome or Sea Monkey and Firefox from Mozilla can help keep you and your website more adequately protected from internet predators and their spyware, adware, viruses and other malicious software.

Cookies on the Internet

As you sit at your computer and surf the Internet, you can’t help but be amazed at how the Internet has opened up one’s ability to visit lands and sights and gather information you might never be able to without it. Indeed entering an area of interest and with a simple click of a mouse, you receive potentially millions of ways to explore the subject of your choice. But something that is frequently looking for you as you search are cookies.

Cookies are small text files, sometimes encrypted. They are often located in web directories and are placed by web developers to allow visitors to travel their sites in an organized manner. Session cookies store information about a visitor’s travels on the sight, allowing the visitor to pick up where they left off, following an interruption. If you happen to be doing some shopping on a site, cookies can also keep track of your choices as you go along, not requiring you to list everything you selected at the end of your session.

Cookies should not be considered viruses. Cookies are made up of simple text, not code. Thus, they can not receive an order to execute and they are unable to execute by themselves. They are unable to copy themselves or spread to other networks and wreak havoc.

However there is a chance for cookies to be used as a form of spyware, as they contain information regarding a visitor’s browsing history and preferences. However most common computer security products and anti-spyware programs are knowledgeable about cookies and frequently bring them up for deletion following security scans.

While cookies are unavoidable while surfing the Internet there are two things one can do to keep protected. One is to set your browser’s cookie setting to a security level you are happy with. The second is to keep a reliable and updated security and anti-spyware program on your computer.

Being aware of and ready for experiences with cookies will allow you to surf the Internet with confidence.

Protecting Your Computer from Viruses

One of the most frustrating things that can happen to your computer is to get a virus that disables it and possibly finds sensitive information that could be used for identity theft. Here are the best ways that you can prevent viruses from ravaging your computer so your information is safe.

First, realize that no matter what you do, there are no fool-proof ways to protect your computer. Especially when you are sharing p2p files or using File Zilla for FTP.  Even if you follow all the tips in this article, it’s still possible to get a virus on your computer. Still, the chances are reduced by following these tips.

Second, use an Internet firewall. This is especially important if you have DSL, cable, or fiber-optic Internet which always stays connected. Even if you don’t have your browser up, it doesn’t mean that someone couldn’t send a virus or hack into your computer through the Internet. A firewall can protect you from this invasion.

Third, keep your computer up to date with Microsoft Update. Periodically, a security update will be released ensuring that any known security holes are patched so your computer is secure.

Fourth, subscribe to antivirus software and make sure to keep your subscription current.  You should certainly do this if you are transferring xvid codec movies with FileZilla software.  Subscriptions are needed because new viruses are being released all the time and security companies are continually developing defenses against these new viruses.

Fifth, never open an email attachment unless you know exactly what it is, even if the email is from someone you know. Some viruses will hack into Facebook accounts and email accounts and send fake emails/messages to people on their friends list or contact list, so just because it’s from someone you know, it doesn’t mean that it’s safe. Also, if you’re sent a link to a website, be sure you know what the site is. If the site asks you to install anything, be suspicious and make sure you know what you’re downloading.

Finally, if your computer starts running slower than usual, have it checked out by a professional. It could mean that there is spyware on your computer such as a program that records your keystrokes and logs your sensitive information.

DIY Techniques to Improve Computer Speed

Opened hard drive with top magnet removed, sho...
Image via Wikipedia

If your computer seems to operate slowly compared to when you first purchased it, then you should explore a few common factors that often prevent PCs from working efficiently. Chances are that you will be able to solve the problem on your own and boost your computer’s performance.

Malware is one of the most common reasons for a slow PC. Viruses, worms, spyware, and adware take up CPU space and eat up bandwidth, resulting in a slow computer that stalls frequently and takes forever to perform simple tasks. Luckily, this problem is easy to fix by installing reliable antivirus software. There are lots of free and subscription options available. Read a few reviews to help you decide which one will work best for you.

Your slow computer could also be caused by a cluttered registry. It’s dangerous to delete files from your registry unless you have some experience with computer programming. Instead of trying to clean up the registry on your own, use software that has been designed to identify unnecessary files. This will help you eliminate the clutter without damaging important system files.

It is also possible that your computer has slowed down because it does not have much free memory available. As a general rule, more free memory equals a faster computer. If your computer’s hard drive is full of files and software that you rarely use, then you can solve this problem by deleting them. Be sure to uninstall unwanted software instead of just dragging the icon into the recycle bin. You can also choose to purchase additional RAM or an external hard drive. External hard drives are useful because they allow you to keep files without actually storing them on your computer. You’ll have easy access to them in the future, but they won’t slow down your PC.