Anti-Spyware Strategies, Part 1: Clean Out Your System - InformationWeek
02:57 PM
Dave Methvin
Dave Methvin

Anti-Spyware Strategies, Part 1:
Clean Out Your System

Do you suspect that your system is infected with adware, spyware, or other malware? Here's how to get rid of it.

A Word on Cookies
Most spyware scanners and cleaners report tracking cookies, sometimes called third-party cookies. Usually these types of cookies are associated with advertising that is displayed on a site, where the actual advertisements are delivered by a different site. Most large ad networks such as DoubleClick and TribalFusion use cookies, primarily so they can determine what ads have been displayed and so that they won't show the same ad to one user too many times. The privacy concern with tracking cookies is that they could be used to follow your computer across multiple sites if those sites all used the same advertising networks.

While cookies from networks such as DoubleClick aren't spyware per se, you might as well delete them.

The bottom line on third-party cookies is that they don't do you any good, so you might as well delete them. They are not really spyware — they are not even software — but they don't benefit you, so there is no reason to leave them around. Almost any time you go online, unless you have your browser set to reject all cookies (which could severely limit your browsing ability), you will accumulate a half-dozen tracking cookies after visiting a few sites. When a spyware scan detects them, just delete them.

Step Five: If All Else Fails
If several anti-spyware tools can't clean out the problem, the system may have problems that require an experienced spyware hunter to remedy. Or perhaps the spyware scanner is reporting results that are confusing. If you're using a commercial anti-spyware product, the best thing to do is contact the vendor through their technical support line. It's possible this is a new type of spyware that is not yet detected, and they may want you to send them a sample of the affected files.

Anti-Spyware Strategies, Part 1

•  Introduction

•  Step One: Back Up Your Data

•  Step Two: Look Around

•  Step Three: Choose An Anti-Spyware App

•  Step Four: If All Else Fails

•  Image Gallery: Clearing Restore Points

The major anti-spyware vendors such Symantec, McAfee, and Computer Associates also offer detailed information about specific threats on their web sites. If you have a favorite vendor, you can simply research the malware using the site's database. You can also use Google to search within a site (for example gmt.exe Finally, if you want to find the most information quickly, simply enter the name of a suspect executable file into Google. Generally, the major sites will have results in the first page or two of results.

Spyware cleanup help is also available for free through several forums on the Internet. Two good places to look for help are the forums at Spyware Warrior and PC Pitstop. If you don't find your problem already posted, then post yours, making sure that you explain the solutions you've tried and the problems you're still seeing.

Dave Methvin is Chief Technical Officer at PC Pitstop, a security Web site.

5 of 5
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of the Cloud Report
As the use of public cloud becomes a given, IT leaders must navigate the transition and advocate for management tools or architectures that allow them to realize the benefits they seek. Download this report to explore the issues and how to best leverage the cloud moving forward.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll