Beating spyware

Recently I think my computer was infected with spyware because now I get tons of pop ups when I never did before, computer has all sorts of unrecognizable programs on it that reappear after I’ve deleted them, redirects on my address bar, etc.

It is soooo frustrating, I cannot begin to explain, and for anyone else this has happened to, you already know what I’m talking about.

I bought Spysweeper (a suppossed Spyware detector/deleter) a week or two ago, used it, and it hasn’t done a damn thing but set me back twenty bucks.

So where do I go from here? Should I erase and re-install my Netzero or what?

Any suggestions would be appreciated, Dopers.

Your Netzero software almost certainly has nothing to do with the problem, so I’d leave that alone.

Get AdAware and Spybot, both freebies: for AdAware, and for Spybot.

After you’ve installed each of them, click on the link provided in each to get the latest updates/signature files. Then run them. These, unlike anti-virus packages, don’t prevent spyware from being installed, but will find and remove the stuff. So, you need to run them often.

Try Adaware. It’s shareware.

Also, picking up Norton Internet Security, or something similar, wouldn’t be a bad idea if you have an extra $60 lying around. It has a pretty darn good pop-up blocker, if you ask me.

Actually that sounds like the messenger service spam to me.

Go here for microsoft’s instructions on how to turn it off.

Its funny how hardly anyone tells anyone about the messenger system. Its really easy to use and turn off.

Control Panel>Admin Tools>Services>Messenger> STOP!


Actually Spybot Search and Destroy has an immunize feature. That prevents spyware. :slight_smile:

It’s an ongoing process.

  1. Ad-Aware and Spybot are essential, of course. You should use both, since sometimes one catches spyware the other doesn’t know about. Update them and run them every week or so.

  2. Make sure your computer has all critical updates. They can be installed easily from

  3. Spyware Blaster is another essential tool. It prevents a lot of “drive-by” spyware installations by preventing them from setting keys in your registry. Run it every couple of weeks; it protects even when it’s not running, so it doesn’t have to take up memory space.

  4. For tough problems, go to and ask in their forums. You should first get Hijackthis, run it, and post the log. You should get an answer soon.

  5. As dorkus said, make sure the messenger service is shut off.

  6. If your browser is being hijacked, it may be CoolWebSearch, which is notoriously difficult to remove – unless you run CWShredder, a utility specifically designed to remove it.

  7. Don’t click on any popups. If they come from an AOL buddy, they’re probably Realphx or Buddypictures.

  8. Don’t install peer-to-peer file sharing software; they’re filthy with spyware.

  9. Stay away from any “free” software that’s advertised by popups or ads on the Internet. They’re paying for the ads, so it isn’t free, and spyware is the price you will pay.

  10. Pest Patrol keeps an extensive list of spyware, as well as manual cleaning instructions. They also offer commercial antispyware software, though I have no idea how good it is.

Ah, right you are! I hadn’t noticed that little gem, since I’ve never been afflicted with any spyware. All I’ve ever gotten are the fairly innocuous “tracking cookies,” and since I’ve disabled third-party cookies, I don’t even get those anymore. (In IE6, Tools, Internet Options, Privacy tab, Advanced, check Override automatic cookie handling, choose Block third party cookies.)

I’m more interested in beating the people who make it.

Nice list btw, RealityChuck. People always jump straight to Adaware and Spybot without ever mentioning Spywareblaster/Spywaregaurd, which are just as important to avoiding this stuff in the first place.

Spybot S&D’s immunization feature is similar to Spywareblaster’s MRU kill list. It probably works the same way. Also very nice.

A few miscellaneous scumware avoidance tips:

  • don’t use IE. Use something like Mozilla/Firebird or Opera if you can, and only use IE when you have to.
  • if it’s already installed, uninstall Microsoft’s java VM and install Sun’s JRE instead. It’s more secure
  • Patch, patch, patch. Microsoft’s security page is often more complete than Windows Update.
  • Get a copy of Microsoft’s Baseline Security Analyzer from the aformentioned link. Run it and follow it’s advice.