Privacy & Security

Free Spyware Removal

April 18, 2009

in privacy & security

by David Hakala

Spyware is software secretly installed on one’s computer that monitors its activity and reports back to a remote listener. But spyware can do more than monitor. It can quietly download and install other malicious software. It can sniff through your email and personal financial software for sensitive information such as Social Security Numbers and passwords to bank accounts, and transmit that to bad guys. It can alter computer settings to redirect Web browsers to the wrong sites or slow down your Internet connection. Spyware is not something you want on your computer.

You can pick up spyware by surfing the Web; installing unknown software; playing infected music, video, or PowerPoint files; clicking on a link in an email; plugging in a USB thumb drive given to you by an innocent friend. If your computer interacts with the world at all, it is vulnerable to spyware. It is very likely you have some spyware right now.

Fortunately, a number for free spyware removal tools are readily available. Companies offer these tools to entice you to buy their commercial wares. Non-profit organizations offer them with no bait attached. Either way, you need one of these free spyware removal tools.

AdAware by is one of the oldest and most trusted free spyware removal tools. The product’s name implies that it targets only those annoying pop-up ads generated by some species of spyware, but AdAware has evolved to do much more. It guards your Internet connection against many types of threats including virus, spyware, password stealers, keyloggers, trojans, dialers, and other potential identity thieves. It protects your passwords and stops suspicious behavior by downloaded files before they install spyware. It can erase the traces of your Web surfing activity that you leave online.

Spybot – Search & Destroy – is another popular and effective free spyware removal tool. It focuses only on detection and removal of spyware, and so its techniques and spyware signature files are generally the most comprehensive and up to date.

Beware of unknown Web sites offering “free spyware scans” and asking you to disable antivirus software or enable ActiveX controls. Often these are wolves in sheep’s clothing, actually installing spyware while pretending to scan your computer for it to protect you.

David Hakala has perpetrated technology tutorials since 1988 in addition to committing tech journalism, documentation, Web sites, marketing collateral, and profitable prose in general. His complete rap sheet can be seen at