Spyware (also known as malware) is a threat to anyone using a computer today; it has now become the single largest problem faced by internet users. Spyware has become so widespread and infectious that its volume far outstrips spam and regular viruses; research suggests that as many as 90% of home computers worldwide are infected by spyware.
As opposed to spyware, a virus is a piece of code that is designed to replicate itself, spread from computer to computer and carry payload that could potentially damage your personal files or even your operating system. Spyware isn’t generally designed to damage your computer; it is a category of computer programs that attach themselves on your system in nefarious ways, with or without your permission, and make unwanted changes to your user experience. Presently, most spyware targets only the Windows operating system; Trymedia, Estalive, Hotbar, Nuvens and New.Net.Domain.Plugin are some of the more notorious spyware threats.
The damage that spyware does to your computer is more of a by-product of its main mission, which is to make your browser display certain sites or search results and show you targeted advertisements; it is capable of changing your system configurations, displaying endless pop-ups, altering your browser’s home page, monitoring your internet activity, and broadcasting the information to a third party.
Spyware programs are developed by clever programmers and then delivered to your system via ‘covert internet installs’. Depending on the type of spyware that has infected your PC, it can carry out a range of nasty activities which include but are not limited to the following:
- Identity theft and keystroke-logging; stealing and delivering your personal information (recent website visits, passwords, your eBay login, banking PIN, PayPal information etc.) and address book to distant servers.
- Flood your browser with pop-up advertising.
- Spam (that is, indiscriminately/unsystematically sending messages to) your inbox with advertising emails.
- Slow down your connection.
- Hijack your browser and redirect you to advertisements or a phishing.com web page.
- Use your computer as a secret server to broadcast pornography files.
- Slow down your computer considerably or even crash it.
Because of the reasons listed above, spyware is an extremely serious problem increasingly threatening everyone’s personal privacy and has become a major concern for network administrators everywhere; it is becoming more and more pervasive and stealthy with each passing day. What makes the situation worse is that newer, nastier functions that suck the life out of your computer’s processing power are created every week by malware programmers. Expert cyber criminals can even combine traditional forms of viruses with traditional forms of spyware to infiltrate your PC.
There are three alternative methods for removing spyware from your computer:
Method 1 – Manual Removal
Step 1 – Restart your computer and press F8 before windows launches; navigate to ‘Run Windows in Safe Mode’ using your arrow keys and press enter. (This ensures that no spyware is loaded into the system’s memory).
Step 2 – Click Start, navigate to the Control Panel and click on Add or Remove programs. Once opened, it will provide you a list of programs installed on your computer. Search for the spyware software that was installed on your computer; they usually have names that have an obvious association with advertising (such as Bonzibuddy or DealHelper).
Step 3 – Once you have located it, highlight the software and click on the ‘Change or Remove’ button, then follow the instructions provided.
Step 4 – Once you have completed steps 1 to 3, reboot your system and go back to normal mode. As a precaution, experts recommend scanning your PC using trusted antispyware software such as Spyhunter to ensure your system was thoroughly cleaned.
Method 2 – Reinstall Windows
Since some spyware is so proficient at hiding itself that it can’t be removed, you may need to reinstall windows and your programs altogether if your see evidence of spyware despite uninstalling it using Control Panel.
Method 3 – Use Antivirus Software
Since many spyware/malware hide on your PC and do not show up in search results for manual deletion, experts recommend using certified antispyware software that not only detects and removes spyware/malware objects but also protects you from future threats and infections.