Anti spyware is a software used to avert and detect unwanted spyware on your device and to remove them if found. Spyware is a malware program that invades a user’s computer and monitors his/her activities secretly. It attacks a system covertly, without the user’s consent. It steals user’s information and misuses them to fulfill malicious purposes.
It is challenging to detect spyware. Therefore, users must install anti spyware software on their system for prevention and protection against such attacks. The anti-spyware software identifies the threats based on either specific rules or downloaded definition files.
The anti-spyware program also provides real-time protection, just like anti-virus programs. The software must always be up to date.
Nowadays, anti-spyware software is often bundled with anti-virus program to offer protection and strengthen the security of the system.
In this article, we will get to know how an anti-spyware software works, its importance, some examples, and their advantages as well as disadvantages. So, let us begin.
How does anti spyware work?
An anti-spyware program is a highly recommended security measure for any computer user.
It runs in the background and continuously checks for the presence of any spyware and other malware programs on the system.
When detected, it alerts the user and lets the user quarantine or remove the infected files, directories and registry keys. Anti-spyware functions in different ways, which are discussed below.
Hard Disk Scan
Spyware usually leaves a signature in the operating system’s registry. A hard disk scan by the anti-spyware program effectively helps in finding out any spyware existence on the system.
It uses a database having known sets of spyware, and searches all the files on the device for matches. The larger the database employed in an anti-spyware software, the better is its chances of detecting spyware.
That’s why, anti-spyware software is frequently updated to include the new spyware in its database too, and thus help to protect the user’s system. Usually, it is available on a subscription basis.
Registry and Memory Scan
For Windows systems, a registry scan determines the changes made by spyware to the Windows configuration files. It is also an excellent technique for anti-spyware to figure out malware in the system.
A memory scan checks the processes running on the computer to discern any suspicious activity.
Monitoring the URLs is a prevalent method for anti-spyware to figure out spyware attack on a system. They keep track of websites visited as well as monitor cookies against a database of known spyware.
This type of security step also helps a user to be aware of spyware existence on one’s system.
What is the importance of anti-spyware software?
Spyware is the number one threat to any computer user and has already affected nearly 87% of the computers. It infiltrates the system through the internet and spies on the user’s activities stealthily.
It steals sensitive information and either store them for retrieving later or uses them in fraudulent or extortion purposes.
So, anti-spyware software is an utmost necessity to protect one’s system from being infected as well as for preventing from losing one’s information to any cyber crook.
The anti-spyware software offers real-time protection too. It runs in the background and continues checking for any possible spyware threat on the device.
There are automatic updates that keep the software up to date and helps to combat even the recently discovered spyware.
Anti-spyware ensures that the privacy of the users is maintained against dangerous malwares, designed by potential hackers, to intrude the devices and steal sensitive user data.
It is recommended to have anti-spyware installed both at an individual as well as organizational levels to build a secure network and maintain privacy.
What are some of the best anti-spyware programs?
Some of the famous and highly recommended anti-spyware programs are listed below, which primarily focus on detecting and removing spyware only. They are:
SuperAntiSpyware is a user’s first choice. It can scan the entire system or just the parts with spyware infection. It can check ZIP files, and skip unknown files, non-executable files, etc.
You can conduct the “Critical Point Scan” to remove the spyware running in the memory currently.
You can also perform the “Custom Scan” to choose what and where to scan (like flash drives, internal/external hard-drives, folders, etc.).
It has a free version where scans and updates are to be done manually. The professional version is a paid service and overcomes the limitations of the free version.
Malwarebytes is easy to use and efficiently removes spyware from a system. It scans through files, running processes, registry values, and keys. It also has a heuristic analyzer to detect potentially unwanted programs.
It has the option to scan a single file or folder, scan within archives as well as the entire hard-drives. The version provided here is free.
However, it has a premium version containing features like automatic updates, automatic quarantine, and more detailed scanning mechanisms.
Adaware blocks new spyware threats as well as remove existing ones from the system. It has a simple easy-to-use design.
It updates on its own and can conduct a full system search. Adaware supports silent/gaming mode and exclusions and scans boot sectors, rootkits, processes, cookies, archives and registry items.
It has a free as well as a paid version, and the price varies depending on the level of protection you select.
SpywareBlaster does not scan for already existing spyware threats but is meant for “blasting” new ones before they penetrate the system.
It enables your web browsers to protect against harmful scripts, exploitations, and cookies with the help of a premade list of blockades against specific websites, cookies, and scripts.
SpywareBlaster has features like “Hosts Safe” to backup and encrypts the hosts file, “System Snapshot” to restore any changes made by spyware, list of custom ActiveX blocking rules, etc.
SpyBot is designed for advanced users. It has an “Apply immunization” option used to block threats in different web browsers. It can “search” and “destroy” spyware on a system easily using the system scanner.
SpyBot disables tracking cookies to secure your privacy. You can perform deep spyware scans and rootkit scans through SpyBot. Also, you can specifically scan files as per your choice.
There are many programs where antivirus and anti-spyware are bundled together. Some of them are McAfee, Symantec, Kaspersky, and WebRoot.
Many a time, spyware disguise as anti-spyware tools and invades your system illegally. For guaranteed security, it is suggested that you buy anti-spyware from a reputed online retailer or a retail store.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of anti-spyware?
There are some advantages as well as disadvantages of using anti-spyware software. They are discussed below.
- Availability of free anti-spyware software is beneficial for people who cannot afford to buy paid services. There are abundant tools on the internet which are free and offer excellent services. During sudden spyware attacks, they help in taking immediate action.
- Free anti-spyware tools are readily available on the internet. They are easy to download and operate.
- In general, as we know, anti-spyware tools bolster the security of the system and prevent hackers from stealthily accessing confidential user information.
However, it has certain disadvantages too.
- Often, spyware disguise as anti-spyware tools and easily intrudes a user’s system when the user attempts to install an anti-spyware software.
Usually, this problem occurs when the anti-spyware software is free and not from a trustworthy source.
- In general, the free anti-spyware software cannot provide comprehensive security and safety measures like paid ones.
Also, they are less reliable as compared to branded anti-spyware tools.
- Free anti-spyware tools, often, contain additional unnecessary features which degrade their performance.
Also, sometimes, malware hides in the links or popup notifications thrown by them. When they are clicked, your device gets infected.
So, anti-spyware is a software that helps to combat spyware attacks and offers protection to one’s system. Sometimes it comes bundled with some antivirus programs too, and thus prevents different types of malware and virus attacks.
Detecting spyware is tough. Spyware invades the system without the user’s knowledge and secretly monitors the user’s activities.
Spyware aids hackers to stash away sensitive user data like login credentials, passwords, bank account details, etc., who may use them in fraudulent activities.
So, installation of anti-spyware software is recommended to secure one’s system as well as privacy. The anti-spyware program runs in the background of the system and checks for the presence of any existing spyware in it. Once detected, it removes them.
There are multiple free as well as paid anti-spyware softwares available. Be careful while installing a free program, as a free anti-spyware software is often spyware itself. Check the reviews and do proper research before proceeding.
Take help of a retail store or trusted online retailer for obtaining a paid anti-spyware program. Popular anti-spyware programs are SUPERAntiSpyware, Malwarebytes, SpyBot, McAfee, Symantec, etc.