The internet has become a breeding ground for malicious software and programs that spread uninhibited like a disease. Among those that pose an imminent threat to computer users worldwide is spyware. Spyware is a type of malicious software that discreetly monitors computer activities. It is done without the knowledge of the user and can lead to potentially damaging breach of privacy issues. Spyware can obtain crucial information such as credit card numbers, passwords, chat sessions, and browser activities. It can also disrupt computer settings and significantly slow down the system. Unwanted advertisement pop-ups, pornography, and affiliate fraud are also tied to spyware activity.
Fortunately, countermeasures against this grave computer threat have already been undertaken. Companies and private individuals have created anti-spyware programs in an attempt to curb the spread of spyware. These programs are either distributed for free or are available for purchase. Essentially, all anti-spyware programs must contain certain features in order to be effective against the constantly evolving nature of spyware. The following are necessary for the best security:
Real-time protection prevents the installation of spyware by blocking user access to data considered malicious. It constantly monitors the system for any incoming threats. Once detected, the anti-spyware program prevents the activation of potential threats and posts an alert, often recommending actions for the user to take.
Scanning and Spyware Removal
If a computer is already infected, the anti-spyware program can scan all files and folders, drives, and registry to identify all threats. Once identified, the threat is compared to a large database that details known spyware. Different anti-spyware companies have varying databases. If a match is found, the recognized spyware is then removed from the system. Additional features that are added bonuses include the ability to remove-on-reboot, rootkit detection, and NTFS alternate data streams scanning.
Updates to expand the database are an essential feature. With the constantly changing nature of spyware, modern threats may not be detected in a system that has an outdated database. The ability for automatic updates is also a nice bonus.
Any changes to the computer system related to spyware should be made available via an exportable text file. If any modifications are detected, the log will serve as basis for recommended actions when consulting with an online community.
A sold online support is essential because of the complex nature of spyware. Not all spyware can be detected and treated by the program. In these cases, online support will help determine the problem and provide guidance towards solving it.
Reduced False Positives
Harmless programs can often be mistaken for spyware. An ideal anti-spyware program is one where the number of false positives is small. It should also have the feature to exclude scanning data deemed safe by the user.
This feature enables users to schedule the anti-spyware program to automatically run on selected times. It is an efficient tool meant to decrease interruptions from manual scanning.
If any changes to the system have been made that are detrimental to the computer, or if the user decides to undo any changes, the ability to rollback or restore data to the previous setting is a good feature of an anti-spyware program.
Integration with Anti-Virus
Anti-spyware packaged with an anti-virus is the best choice to make when dealing with internet threats. A standalone anti-spyware program might be effective, but without anti-virus software, protection is limited. Nowadays, companies market a complete protection package that has both capabilities, as well as extra security features.
User Friendly Interface
An elegant and easy-to-handle interface is also essential if the user wants to avoid frustrations and difficulties. No matter how powerful the software is, it will not be able to combat threats effectively if the user is unable to issue commands due to a difficult interface.
The battle for security demands tough choices to be made with regards to selecting an anti-spyware program. With these guidelines in mind, choosing one should be easier. Always remember that a proactive approach is needed in picking the right product. Safety is never a second priority, and the right anti-spyware will make sure you sleep easy at night.