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Choosing the Best Anti-Spyware Program

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There are specific programs that you can install to protect yourself from spyware. Laura Hunter discusses the most popular programs and shows what each of them does — or doesn't — do.
The following is an excerpt from Stopping Spyware by Laura Hunter. book is available exclusively online at Safari.
This chapter is from the book

Installing Anti-Spyware Protection

In addition to the steps we've already talked about for protecting your PC, there are specific programs that you can install to protect yourself from spyware. You can download anti-spyware software for free, or you can pay for a software package that has additional features to protect your PC. Regardless of the particular brand of software that you choose, there are a few features that you should look for when selecting anti-spyware software:

  • Real-time monitoring. Like the real-time scanner in your anti-virus software, this means that your anti-spyware software is always running in the background while you're doing other things on your computer. So, this real-time monitoring will be ready to react if a malicious website even tries to install a piece of spyware on your computer. This feature is usually available only in paid versions of anti-spyware software.
  • Definition updates. You should be able to download updates to your anti-spyware software to protect yourself as new threats emerge on the Internet.
  • Safe removal and rollback. Anti-spyware software needs to be able not only to remove spyware from your computer but also to do so safely. It won't do you much good if you remove that piece of spyware from your PC, only to find that you get the Blue Screen of Death the next time you turn your computer on. In most cases, spyware can be removed without harming your PC. But to protect against the possibility that removing the spyware causes more trouble than it solves, you should have a way to restore your computer, to undo whatever the spyware removal utility did. Of course, this will probably mean that you still have a spyware infection to contend with, but having a rollback option will at least allow you to save your important files if you need to resort to more drastic steps.
  • Restoring browser settings. Though you might have to dig around in an "Advanced Tools" or "Advanced Settings" menu to find it, most anti-spyware tools will have an option to restore your web browser settings if you've been the victim of browser hijacking. You should be able to quickly restore your browser to your old home page, or even restore it to the factory defaults.

Up until now, we haven't done much of anything to your computer that actually changes any of your files or settings. But when you're dealing with spyware removal, there's always a chance that you'll accidentally delete something you didn't mean to, and your computer will stop working entirely. You should be sure that you have backups of your important files at all times, especially when you're trying to remove a spyware infection. We'll talk more about data backups in a later section. For now, we'll look at some of the more popular anti-spyware software that's available and discuss how to go about downloading and installing them.

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