10 years ago you could probably have run no Internet security applications and still have come out after a browse of the Internet with a virus and malware free computer, but this situation is no longer apparent. Several years ago, before I knew of the dangers of the Internet, I had absolutely no spyware or adware protection. After about 3 months of heavy Internet browsing, I decided to install Adaware Personal Edition and Spybot Search & Destroy, and after 1 scan of each, I truly realised the potential of the Internet. After just 3 moths of Internet browsing, I had gathered over 9000 different spyware and adware products. So if I can gather 9000 unwanted products in 3 months with only web browsing, what about all the people who constantly surf, download and install, and havn't scanned their PC for malware in over a year?
That's right. Viruses are not restricted to movies and the news anymore. Adware is not only for those who install illegal software. In 2004, adwarereport.com reported that over 70 percent of home PCs are today infected unknowingly by spyware and that over 80 percent are infected by adware. I am willing to garantee you that 9 out of 10 people who read this article have at least 1 form of adware or spyware on their PC. Now if that isn't a threat to your PC than I don't know what is.
What will it do?
So now you're saying, "So what if I have spyware or adware. How much harm could it do?". That's a reasonable question, considering one of the reasons adware has been ignored for so long is its lack of severe harm. Adware slows your computer, it slows your Internet, it displays a popup every once in a while, but really it does no harm to personal files or hardware. Both adware and spyware breach privacy, but personal data rarely reaches anyone but untargeted advertisers so SPAM and advertising are the only real problems.
Therefore, it is logical to say that adware and spyware are not as serious a threat as malicious viruses and trojans, but they are a threat all the same.
Scanning and removing adware and spyware
With the mass realisation of the threat of adware and spyware in the last couple of years, there is now literally hundreds of spyware and adware removers online.
The most respected and thorough scanners for adware and spyware are Lavasoft Ad-aware and Spybot Search and Destroy. Both are free and are known to be much better then most of their costly counterparts. Microsoft Anti-Spyware is quickly increasing in popularity but is currently in Beta stages. Several other notable scanners include Spysweeper, BPS Spyware & Adware Remover and PestPatrol.
I personally recommend you scan about once a month with both Spybot Search and Destroy as well with Lavasoft Adaware Personal Edition.
Lavasoft Ad-aware : http://www.lavasoftusa.com/
Spybot S&D :http://spybot.eon.net.au/en/
Soroush King is a certified programmer, adept in VB, C++, Delphi, as well as web developer and scripter, having considerable knowledge of both PHP and Perl. He also owns and manages several professional websites.
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