In my previous post I dealt with Free Antivirus products and Free Firewalls. In Part 2 I will cover some AntiSpyware products that you can run on your PC to make sure it’s clean. To start I will focus on the junk that is downloaded to your PC during each Internet session.
When surfing the internet we download all sorts of junk into our Cookie folder and into Temporary Internet Files or our Cache if using “Firefox”, “Opera” or another alternate Internet browser.
Cookies in themselves are text files and therefore do not pose a risk to us. However, code can be inserted in these text files which causes un-identifying information to be sent back to it’s home website about our browsing habits. When we visit the same site a few times, the site will then produce a page with information and images that might be interesting to us, based on our previous browsing habits. To surf anonymously, those “tracking cookies” must be removed.
Temporary Internet Files in Internet Explorer are copies of each page we visit during a session on the Internet. Other browser’s call them “cache” or “browsing history“. They are saved so that we can return to the page faster when we re-open our browsers.
Temp folder is a folder where temporary files are stored when installing a program. In most cases these files are not needed once the program is installed.
Internet Explorer and other browser’s can be set up so that they automatically delete the cookies, temporary Internet Files and any other junk we have collected in a session, when the browser is closed. However, some junk is left behind if you don’t use another program to clear the hidden files that will track you while you surf the internet. Another way to clear these files is using diskmgr or cleanmgr putting a check mark beside the above items before running the tool.
At times visiting a website can download unwanted and un-needed junk. This junk can include malware and spyware as well as the tracking cookies mentioned above. There are a few Free programs available that usually download as the Full Version and then in 15 or 30 days drop the advanced settings and become a program that will find malware or spyware on your PC and some of them will continue to clean it as well.
- One of the most well-known programs is Spybot Search and Destroy by Safer Networking. This is one of the few programs that downloads in Full Version and remains that way for the life of the program. It has to be kept up-to-date with new spyware and malware definitions, regularly and it provides some extras that are very handy to have but require learning about what they do, and how they do it. It has a resident program called TeaTimer that protects your system settings from being changed by an outside program thereby protecting your computer from the effects of malware. The other resident program is a bad download blocker which protects you from drive-by downloads, similar to what IE-SPYAD does. PLEASE NOTE: Using the blocker in IE-SPYAD, Spywareblaster, WinPatrol and Spybot Search and Destroy together do duplicate some of the settings in these programs. Spybot Search & Destroy can be found at http://safer-networking.org/en/download/index.html. After downloading S S&D in the Default version, click on “Search For Updates” then “Check For Problems”. If it finds anything, during the scan, you can fix it and a backup is made of any changes you approve. This way any changes made can be undone, should anything not work after fixing it. At any time you can switch to Advanced Mode using the ‘mode’ selection on the top bar. This will give you many tools you can use, but please ensure you know what they do, before using them. A help file is available.
- A second Free Antispyware program is AVG Antispyware. It originally was called Ewido but is now owned by grisoft. There are free and professional versions and the initial download is for the Professional version which reverts to the free version after 30 days. It is available at http://free.grisoft.com/doc/20/us/frt/0. As the antispyware programs cover different infections it is often wise to use more than one to check your PC especially if you notice something odd about the way your PC is behaving.
There are others that are excellent but are not free. When looking for a new antispyware program please remember to look at the Rogue and Suspect Antispyware Product data base at http://www.spywarewarrior.com/rogue_anti-spyware.htm
When surfing the Internet Stay Safe!!