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Spyware Removal Tips

By Ryan McCoy on November 19, 2010

 

“Your computer is being attacked by an Internet Virus. Would you like to purchase our software removal kit to remove it?”

You may have seen a similar message indicating a fake anti-virus, which may have even locked other applications from opening  You may have experienced another form of malware or virus from surfing the internet. This post will provide tips on how to remove it and protect your computer.

 

 

HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU ARE INFECTED?

For the sake of this post, spyware will refer to all computer infections, including viruses and trojans.

The obvious sign is that applications or websites will open on their own, such as the fake anti-virus message above.

Or maybe you’ll find your computer running abnormally slow. Applications may not open or work properly.

If you think spyware is running on your computer, try opening up Task Manager by pressing the Ctrl + Alt + Delete keys. Under the Processes tab, order them by User Name to find the processes running under your user name. Don’t close any processes that are unfamiliar, but if you see anything suspicious, such as a string of random numbers or incoherent letters, look it up on the internet.

It is possible that spyware will prevent you from even opening Task Manager or your Internet Browser, which means you are infected.

 

 

EARLY TIPS

Spyware can come from harmless websites, but it is still good practice to be careful where you surf. Pirated programs can come with spyware and if an unexpected pop-up appears with an option to say yes, it’s better to close out of it.

Keep Windows updated. Your computer might prompt updates automatically, but you can always check at Microsoft’s website: http://www.update.microsoft.com

If you see that spyware has been installed on your computer, removing it may be as simple as finding it under Add/Remove Programs in the Control Pannell and uninstalling it.

On the other hand, you will likely need to refer to anti-virus software for removal.

 

 

ANTI-VIRUS SOFTWARE

For a list of anti-virus software, first you can check out AV-Comparatives at http://www.av-comparatives.org/. They perform independent tests of anti-virus software and links to the software can be found at their homepage. Important to note is that trial versions can be downloaded of any of the premium software, so make sure to test before you purchase.

During our last podcast we covered the PC Magazine’s anti-virus ratings, another excellent website for deciding which product to use. http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2372364,00.asp

Webroot’s Antivirus with Spy Sweeper drew the best ratings from PC Magazine this time around, if you’d like to try a new premium spyware, running for $39.95 per year. http://www.webroot.com/En_US/consumer-products.html

Akron Summit County Public Library currently uses AVG. Their free version contains most of the same features and drew 4 ½ stars from PC Magzine. http://free.avg.com/us-en/homepage

Ken touched upon Spybot Search and Destroy in his freeware post and I second his recommendation. It is a heavy duty scan that will pick up lots spyware your computer may have received. Like many of the anti-virus software programs, it can help not only for spyware removal but spyware blockage  http://www.safer-networking.org/index2.html

Malwarebyte’s Anti-Malware’s free version can be used manually to run a scan to find and remove malware. It is most well-received for removing those pesky fake anti-viruses such as MS Antivirus, which that reason alone (and of course, the free part) makes it worth saving to your personal computer. I was disappointed in its PC Magazine rating, but I use it because it downloads and scans so quickly.  http://www.malwarebytes.org/mbam.php

 

 

SCAN

Once you’ve decided on software, it’s time to use it to scan the computer. Some spyware will block applications from running so you may have to scan the computer in Safe Mode.  To boot into Safe Mode, turn the computer off. Turn it on and press the F8 key, which should launch you into a Windows Option mode to boot into Safe Mode.

 

 

FINALLY

Even after you remove the spyware with a scan, your computer may not be 100% fixed. Check your internet settings. Some viruses will change the homepage or add unwanted sites to the Trusted Sites Zone. Others may change proxy settings to keep you out of the internet.nbsp;Even if your scan was with premium software, it’s a good idea to do a backup scan with one of the freeware mentioned above or found at http://www.av-comparatives.org.


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