About nine months ago I began seeing SPAM emails and banners on Web sites offering "Spyware". I had no desire to spy on people, so I disregarded them. The rate of "Spyware" offerings exploded so I finaly decided to look into the matter further. I learned that "Spyware" was NOT software that enabled you to "spy" on others. Rather, it was so that others could "spy" on you. I don't do anything that is illegal or could be embarassing if found out, so it didn't affect me. Right? WRONG!
When you visit some Web sites, a small program is automatically downloaded to your computer. It is these programs that are actualy the "Spyware". These programs fall into three categories:
1) Cookies: Cookies are given a bum rap by most people. Whenever you login to a Web site, such as Ebay, PayPal and membership sites, a small program called a cookie is downloaded to your computer. Your user name and password are stored in a special place on your computer. Cookies do not cause any problems with your computer and have no risk.
2) Adware: Advertisers are getting more sophisticated in obtaining information to send out their SPAM. Some Web sites are paid to have their "Adware" program automatically downloaded to the computers of visitors. These programs record the Web sites you visit as well as your email address. It gets your email address from your computer, and in some cases, the email addresses in your email program address book as well. Then advertisers send out their targeted SPAM email. If you want to cut down the volume of SPAM email, you need to remove these Adware programs.
3) Identity Theft: The most harmful of Spyware programs are used to obtain information such as bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, birthdate, and so forth. These programs actually record all of your computer keystrokes and forward them to the thieves. For example, when you login to your banks Web site to review your checking account, the program logs your keystrokes and thus captures the information needed to login to your account themselves. You can imagine what havoc they can cause with this information.
I've tried several Spyware programs. All of them allow you to have these Spyware parasites deleted from your computer. Running NoAdware I discovered that I had 9 cookies and 3 Adware programs on my computer. I deleted the parasites (it cost me $20 to have them deleted) and tried other Spyware programs. However, I found the best one is SpyBot Search and Destroy. Right after running NoAdware, I ran Spybot Search and Destroy and discovered that I had 121 Spyware programs on my computer! Three were Idenity Theft programs, 12 were Adware programs. The rest were cookies. (I surf the Internet several hours per day.)
In addition to being able to delete these parasites, Spybot Search and Destroy automatically immunizes your computer so that the parasites you deleted will no longer be able to attach themselves to your computer in the future.
Third, Spybot Search and Destroy enables you to download updated files to keep current with all the Spyware parasites as they come out. I ran Spybot Search and Destroy weekly for a month. After the first time, the number of new parasites found on my comouter was significantly reduced. Now, in my second month of using it, the last 3 times it found no new parasites.
Perhaps the best feature of Spybot Search and Destroy is that is actually FREE. Other Spyware programs claim to be free, however they only search your computer for Spyware and then require you pay for the program before the parasites can be removed. Spybot Search and Destroy does not require any payment to use. There is a link on the program if you desire to make a donation, but a donation is not required to fully use the program. Download the program here. So far over 24 million people use Spybot.