Henry R. asks:
I have been reading your articles on malware and I realize that I need to take precautions, as well as be informed. Do you know of any programs that will do all of the things needed to make sure this stuff doesn’t get on my computer? And if it does, what program can I use to get rid of whatever it is?
Henry, I must say that I am impressed on how you got the concept of malware “down pat”. You mentioned that you have to stay informed, and that is wonderful! I can’t stress how important it is to keep up on everything where malware is concerned; you can’t ever be too knowledgeable about it. Good job!
I have compiled a comprehensive list of resources for you; they are listed below. I think you will find the answer to your questions, and may find some information you didn’t even know you needed!
So read on! And thanks so much for writing, Henry!
There are many great (and not-so-great) anti-spyware programs out there; how do you tell which is the best for you? From editors, users, and myself comes a list of the most highly recommended best blockers, detection, and removal of malware on the internet.
BEST SPYWARE BLOCKER
Spyware Blaster (Detect/Block)
This program is there to block and detect malware. Manufactured by Javacool, this blocker was #1 with just about every review editor I came across. It blocks unwanted installation of spyware and limits the nasty actions of nasty websites. All in all, a program that can really compliment your other security software.
BEST ANTI-SPYWARE SOFTWARE
Spyware Doctor (Monitor/Blocker/Detection/Removal)
By far the most recommended spyware blocker – and detector – and remover – of spyware by everyone that knows anything about spyware. Manufactured by PCTools, this program is hailed as being the best of the best by editors and users alike.
Super Anti-Spyware (Monitor/Blocker/Detection/Removal)
This heavy-duty anti-spyware program was just released (July 21, 2010) and already is moving in its main competitor (Spyware Doctor). Aside from detecting just about everything imaginable, the new fix makes the scans a lot quicker. It hasn’t been reviewed by a lot of editors as of yet, but users all over the globe love this program.
Counter Spy (Monitor/Blocker/Detection/Removal)
Put out by Sunbelt software, this program has many features that made it a #1 recommendation. Its detection effectiveness is astounding, and even when it runs in the background it takes up hardly any resources, which means is doesn’t slow down your computer at all – even when it’s running in the background.
BEST SPYWARE DETECTION AND REMOVAL
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (Detection/Removal)
This has gotten rave reviews from malware forums and spyware removal companies alike, but I would like to give this a huge thumbs up! This program has saved me every single time I have had a problem, no matter how big or how small. The big problems I had should have been really tough to get rid of, but not with this program. I highly recommend this program any time you have any type of spyware install itself on your system. In the middle of a crisis, download it and put it on some type of external storage – a CD, a flash drive- take it to the infected computer, install it, run it in Safe Mode and you’re golden. A wonderful program and a life-saver in case something ends up invading your computer.
Spybot Search and Destroy (Detection/Removal)
I used to use Spybot religiously, but now I tend to try and use other products so I don’t get to it as much, and I should. It saved me so many times and got rid of everything it detected with a click of the mouse. Nothing is too small for this program to detect and remove. A great program that’s been around awhile – for a reason.
(Note: Do not confuse this with Spybot Remover; it did not receive as many good reviews as its detection counterpart).
Prevx 3.0 (Detection/Removal)
Apparently you can’t have a faster installation or malware scan (that actually repeats itself until everything is gone). If certain system components are damaged, it will replace them. It won’t scan unless it is able to access its online database since that’s what it relies on. A hugely recommended spyware detection and removal program.
BEST INTERNET SECURITY SUITES
Norton Internet Security 2010
I saw more good reviews about this suite than any other. Security Suites come with everything; this program comes with almost more. It scans all e-mail, blocks all phishing, prevents your personal information from getting out via messaging or e-mail, and a whole lot more. One thing I found interesting is that almost all of the reviews said that it takes hardly any system resources.
A highly recommended Security Suite.
Spam, phishing, hackers, infected websties – you name it, it stops it. It watches for identity theft (always a huge plus) and it has a ‘virtual keyboard’ that enters your personal and sensitive information safely. You can’t wrong with this one.
PC Tools 2010 Internet Security 6
From the manufacturer of the #1 recommended anti-spyware program (Spyware Doctor) comes PC Tools 2010 Internet Security Suite. A very powerful suite with firewall, antivirus, antispyware, and spam protection, it prevents hackers and intruders from even getting near your computer, and it boasts superb e-mail filtering for spam and phishing. A very highly praised security suite.
The seemingly unchallenged #1 firewall out there. I use it myself and it is nothing short of wonderful. I am only speaking of the firewall, not the security suite they offer. It blocks trojans, hackers, and other dangers that try and creep in to your system. Its effectiveness tests averaged 95% across the board. This is one firewall that will keep out the fires! You really can’t beat it.
Zone Alarm Pro
Another well-recommended program. It monitors your system and keeps out all of the malicious intruders, and it makes your computer invisible online – always a plus. Its toolbar blocks phishing sites, and warns you if any browser downloads are malicious. Once again, a program that has been awhile and just keeps getting better and better.
Now this is a firewall to pay attention to! Its main claim-to-fame is its protection against identity theft. If you do a lot of online banking, this is one to seriously consider. It stops hackers, it stops malicious activity, it protects against phishing, and more. This is one powerful firewall.
You may have seen logs from this program somewhere in your travels on the internet, they are everywhere for experts to analyze. This is a super program that scans your system and then gives you a log of running processes on your computer and then you (or an expert) can decide if it’s nasty enough to get rid of. This is an absolutely necessary tool to use; no one should be without it.
(Note: Unless you are an advanced user, get an expert to help you analyze your results and take out the offenders. Be safe and let someone else handle the hard stuff.)
BEST ONLINE MALWARE/ANTIVIRUS/FIREWALL SCANNERS
Give any or all of these a try. It’s worth it. And they are all free.
Trend Micro Housecall
Shields Up! – (Gibson Research Corporation)
Webroot Online Scan
Bitdefender Online Scanner
Spy Doctor Free PC Scan
Kaspersky Anti-Virus Scanner: Currently unavailable. The web site says it is coming out with an advanced new and improved version. It’s worth a check back; it’s a great scan.
Educate yourself! The best form of prevention and removal is to know what to prevent and remove.
I came across some worthwhile reading in my spyware-information travels across the internet and would like to share them with you. A lot of them are in .pdf format, which can be viewed with a .pdf file reader. (A .pdf file is just another kind of readable file but it has to be viewed by a specific program.) Adobe is/has been the automatic go-to where .pdf files are concerned good, but it can be an attack magnet (been there, done that) so in addition to the download button for Adobe, I have included two more .pdf readers that you might want to try that have been very highly recommended.
Adobe Reader 9.0
Note: The Adobe Reader download page also has a scan (Free McAfee® Security Scan Plus)
available if you’d like to try it.
Security Guide to Social Networks (Trend Micro)
An incredibly good presentation of what’s really up with Social Networking and security. Written by the company who gives us Hijack This (among others), it’s an insightful guide to what happens when you create new networks, what attackers can do with social networks, and a whole lot more.
Guide to Malware Incident Prevention and Hacking (NIST)
Just what it says. An interesting read and some good advice.
Introduction to Wireless Hacking (pdfcast.org)
You can read this online if you want, or you can use the .pdf reader you chose, whichever. I found this to be pretty interesting.
The Digital Economy Health Book (T. M. Lenard, D.B.Britton)
Pretty interesting stuff. The link takes you to the Google page where you click on the download page. If that makes no sense I’m not surprised. Just click on the link and it will.
LEARN ABOUT PRIVACY
There wasn’t a lot of talk about privacy in the spyware material that was covered. I came across three articles that I thought would really interest you.
Tech Secrets: 21 Things ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know –Dan Tynan, PC World.
This was one of the best articles I have read in a long time regarding privacy. There’s some stuff in here that I had no idea was going on – see how much you know!
The Smart Paranoid’s Guide to Using Google – Logan Kugler, PC World.
Another one worthy of your time. I am on Google a lot, and let’s just say I am glad I didn’t do a lot of … well, you read it and see if you have made any privacy mistakes.
14 Ways to Protect Your Privacy – Rachel Wait.
A great guide.
In case you missed them, here are some great questions (and the answers) from some of our readers. Check these out:
Spyware and Adware Prevention
Some really good tips to keep the bad guys away.
Ways to prevent yourself from contacting one of the deadliest forms of malware on the internet.
Again, a very dangerous form of malware. If a rootkit is detected on your system, you probably have to say goodbye to everything single thing on your hard drive. But maybe not…Take a look at this and see what you can do about them.
What does any of this mean?! Read this to be enlightened as to what all of this ‘ware stuff is.
Just a couple of last minute tips:
– Keep educating yourself! You can never know too much about this subject.
-Google anything that you are going to install and find out what the reviews are. Even if it looks legit, it may not be.
– Never use two firewalls at the same time. Two firewalls will drain your system’s resources and may conflict with each other. (Note: The same is true of anti-virus programs.)
– Probably the most important rule (and I can’t say it enough) when dealing with all of this is to use something! It doesn’t have to be the most expensive, biggest and best, tons of bells-and-whistles program – just make sure you protect yourself!
Okay, that’s it. Whew! I hope this guide helps you find your ideal security package if not just for your computer’s health, but your peace of mind.