Free Spyware Detection, Prevention, Removal
Prevent spyware, adware, trojans and hijackers from infecting your system
Free Spyware Detection, Prevention, Removal
If you ever had programs unexpectedly installing on your system, popping up advertisements, saying voice advertisements or playing music, changing (hijacking) your home page (or start page), modifying your search results, displaying search results when you hit a 404 file not found page, dialing out, and so on, your system has probably been compromised by some spyware, adware, trojan, hijacker or dialer.
Loosely speaking, when this page refers to spyware, it means some program that has been installed on your system that reports something back to the software writer (or website that installed it) - whether it be websites you visit or your activities on the computer or the like. Adware means a program that displays advertisements on your computer; and I don't mean the usual advertisements you see on web pages that you visit: adware pop-up advertising windows (or in some cases, say some voice message) on your system are not generated by the websites you happen to visit. Dialers are programs that get installed on your system and try to dial up to some telephone line somewhere, sometimes incurring you expensive phone bills. Keyloggers record the keystrokes you type on your computer (some are more sophisticated in capturing screen shots, etc), and either log them or report them to the person who installed them.
This page lists some sites and software that you can use to detect such spyware, adware, trojans, hijackers, dialers, keyloggers and what-have-you on your computer. Some of them will also remove them, and others when installed and run will prevent some of these nasties from being installed in the first place.
Update: This page was created in the early 2000s, back when antivirus software only cleaned up viruses and you needed separate programs to protect you from other types of malware. Nowadays, most (if not all) standard antivirus software also clean up spyware, trojans and the like (although not necessarily adware). As such, if you have a commercial antivirus program like Norton Internet Security or even a free antivirus program, your system probably already has some sort of program that protects you from spyware and the like. If you do not have any antivirus software on your system, please visit the Free Antivirus Software page instead.
IMPORTANT - PLEASE READ:
If you find that the links to the free software below go to pages which require you to pay money to get software, it means that your computer is badly infested with spyware and adware. You can no longer trust any link you see in your browser. The malware or spyware loaded in your computer has modified the addresses of every page you visit so that you are redirected to the spyware site. You may have to revisit this page from a clean computer to get the real software that is listed on this page.
Free Spyware, Browser Hijacking (etc) Prevention, Detection and Removal
- Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free
The free edition of this anti-malware software is an on-demand program that detects and removes malware on your computer. ("On-demand" here means that you have to specifically run it to check your system.) From their website, the types of malware targeted by this program include worms, trojans, rootkits, rogue programs, dialers and spyware. They also have a "Pro" version that has a "real-time" component, meaning that it runs all the time in the background and will alert you whenever it detects malware.
- Microsoft Security Essentials
This is a free antivirus / anti-malware tool from Microsoft that is reported to be lightweight and generally unobtrusive. It works on XP, Vista and Windows 7 (both 32 and 64 bit). It handles viruses, spyware, trojans, rootkits and other types of malware. Note: the above leads to the Security Essentials main page, from which you can download a stub downloader, which will, in turn, download the actual antivirus software. If you prefer to download the complete software instead of going through the intermediary software, try the download page. (If the download page link is broken, or even the main link above, please let me know. The webmasters at Microsoft frequently change the addresses of their pages without automatically redirecting users to the new locations.)
- Spybot Search and Destroy (Spybot S & D)
Spybot Search and Destroy is a spyware detection and removal utility for Windows. It can detect and remove spyware, adware, trojans, hijackers, dialers, malware, keyloggers and numerous other nuisances. The free version is supposed to be nagware (ie, it nags you about buying the paid version).
- SUPERAntiSpyware -- AntiAdware, AntiSpyware, AntiMalware
This anti-spyware program scans your hard disks, removable drives, memory, and registry for adware, spyware, malware, trojans, dialers, worms, keyloggers, hijackers, etc. Besides being able to detect these threats, it is also able to remove them if they are found to have infected your system. You can also exclude certain files or folders from scanning if you wish.
This program prevents spyware ActiveX controls from being installed on your computer by adjusting your system so that these malicious controls are prevented from being installed or run. For the technically inclined, it sets the "kill bit" for these controls, causing IE to refuse to run them. It also blocks cookies from certain websites or companies that are known to use these cookies to track a user's surfing habits.
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