One of the questions that I here the most is “Why are there so much adware and spyware written for Windows operating systems?”. Well, Microsoft Windows is by far the most popular and widely used desktop operating system in the world. Therefore it is the biggest target for malicious code writers. Why would a malicious software writer want to spend time writing malware for an OS that less than 15% of the population uses? Linux and Mac users do not have to worry about adware and spyware right now, but as they become more popular their chances for infection will increase.
Side note: Malware is software designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system without the owner’s informed consent. It is a combination of the words “malicious” and “software”. The expression is a general term used to mean a variety of forms of hostile, intrusive, or annoying software or program code.
Here are 4 free programs that will help protect your PC from adware and spyware:
Ad-Aware 2007 (Non-Commercial Freeware)
Ad-Aware 2007 Free remains the most popular anti-spyware product for computer users around the world, with nearly one million downloads every week. The Ad-Aware 2007 free anti-spyware version provides you with advanced protection against spyware that secretly attaches and takes control of your computer, resulting in aggressive advertising pop-ups, sluggish computer activity, even identity theft through stolen bank details, passwords, and credit card account numbers. If you want real-time scanning capabilities, consider upgrading to Ad-Aware 2007 Plus for real-time protection against spyware, all the time!
Spybot – Search & Destroy (Freeware)
Spybot – Search & Destroy detects and removes spyware, a relatively new kind of threat not yet covered by common anti-virus applications. Spyware silently tracks your surfing behaviour to create a marketing profile for you that is transmitted without your knowledge to the compilers and sold to advertising companies. If you see new toolbars in your Internet Explorer that you haven’t intentionally installed, if your browser crashes inexplicably, or if your home page has been “hijacked” (or changed without your knowledge), your computer is most probably infected with spyware. Even if you don’t see the symptoms, your computer may be infected, because more and more spyware is emerging. Spybot-S&D is free, so there’s no harm giving it a try to see if something has invaded your computer.
SpywareBlaster (Non-Commercial Freeware)
Spyware, adware, browser hijackers, and dialers are some of the fastest-growing threats on the Internet today. By simply browsing to a web page, you could find your computer to be the brand-new host of one of these unwanted fiends!
The most important step you can take is to secure your system. And SpywareBlaster is the most powerful protection program available.
- Prevent the installation of ActiveX-based spyware, adware, browser hijackers, dialers, and other potentially unwanted software.
- Block spyware/tracking cookies in Internet Explorer and Mozilla/Firefox.
- Restrict the actions of potentially unwanted sites in Internet Explorer.
SpywareBlaster can help keep your system spyware-free and secure, without interfering with the “good side” of the web. And unlike other programs, SpywareBlaster does not have to remain running in the background.
Windows Defender is a free program that helps protect your computer against pop-ups, slow performance, and security threats caused by spyware and other unwanted software. It features Real-Time Protection, a monitoring system that recommends actions against spyware when it’s detected and minimizes interruptions and helps you stay productive. Now with 2 free support incidents for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Windows Defender comes installed in Windows Vista.
Although Windows Defender provides real-time protection it does not detect all instances of malware. In order to be better protected run regular scans with Ad-Aware 2007 and Spybot – Search & Destroy. The frequency of scans will depend on the amount of time you spend online and the sites you visit. Normal home users should conduct a scan every two weeks at a minimum.