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Where Did “Spyware Threat Has Been Detected on Your PC” Come From?

March 17, 2009

in applications,privacy & security,Windows

by David Hakala

As you surf the Web, you may be startled by a window that pops up with a message like one of these:

warning spyware threat has been detected on your pc

spyware threat has been detected on your pc

Sometimes the window jiggles nervously in a way calculated to make you anxious. Always, there is a button to click for a “free spyware scan.”

This alarming phenomenon is not generated by any anti-spyware software you have installed on your computer. It is an advertisement, and a dirty, underhanded one.

How can you tell? The warning window pops up immediately when you get to a Web page. A spyware scan takes several minutes, during which time you will generally see a progress screen of some sort.

If you click on the “free spyware scan” button, you will be whisked to a Web site that offers just that. If you let it scan your PC for spyware, it will report that you are infected with gazillions of nasty little things. Then it will offer you the chance to buy the cure, a spyware removal utility. Note that you have only a stranger’s word for it that your computer is infected with spyware, and that stranger wants your money.

Click on the pop-up window’s little “close” button to make this annoyance go away, and it will take you to the vendor’s Web site anyhow. However, clicking your browser’s Refresh button will reload the page you want to see, usually without the pop-up ad.

The most annoying thing about such BS is the vendor’s assumption that you are stupid. You don’t need to buy anti-spyware software if you are a non-commercial home computerist. There are several free and very good anti-spyware utilities out there. Here are just two:

Lavasoft’s Ad Aware has a free version, licensed for non-commercial home users, which provides protection against spyware including keystroke loggers; Trojan horse programs that hide in other downloaded software; rootkits that are hard to detect and eliminate; and more.

Advanced System Care is also free for non-commercial home users. ASC does much more than spyware protection. It can optimize your PC to speed its performance; defragment your hard drive; adjust your Internet settings for faster Web page loading and file downloads; and much more.

Don’t reward devious peddlers with your purchase of their software. Protect your computer against spyware with honest and generous products like these.

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