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Using Ad-Aware to Get Rid of Spyware
Posted by Clarke M on 03 April 2006 06:34 PM
Today's tip is about spyware and what you can do to block it. Spyware is software that is downloaded to your computer either by clicking on a pop-up ad, or installing software like Kazaa and almost all music sharing programs, Weatherbug, Date & Time sync applications, etc. Chances are, if you have downloaded a free program advertised in a pop-up window, it will contain spyware. Once installed, spyware software can easily send any required information out to the Internet using the system's current connection. Such transactions occur in the background and are difficult to notice or trace, since most firewall hardware and software, including Windows XP's built in firewall, does not interfere with information going out of the protected computer or network. Please keep in mind that uninstalling the software that the spyware was bundled with usually does not remove the spyware.

There are plenty of programs to combat this nuisance. One such program is Ad-Aware. The basic version is free for personal use, and can be downloaded here:

http://tucows.kingston.net/preview/236049.html

Once you have downloaded and installed Ad-Aware, start the program. A status screen will appear that looks a lot like this:



Click the Start button. Next, you will see a screen saying that it is preparing to scan your system:



It is best to choose the top option unless you are an advanced user. Click the Next button.

Here's where the fun begins. Ad-Aware will start scanning your computer for spyware. The scanning screen while in progress looks like this:



When the scan is complete, you will get a screen that lists the number of files scanned and the number of pieces of spyware on your computer. You might be quite shocked at the amount, especially if you like to use file-sharing programs. The completed scan screen looks like:



Clicking the Next button will bring you to the following screen:



This lists every piece of spyware on your system, including "Data Miners". These are tracking and data feedback bugs that many websites deploy to track their visitors, and they are the ones that are displayed in the list in the picture above. The more programs like Kazaa and Weatherbug (among many others) you have installed, the more spyware you will have on your computer.

It is suggested that you quarantine everything in this list. It is backed up when quarantined, so you will not be erasing anything from your computer. A quarantine log looks like:



Later you can decide if you want to delete these bugs for good.

For more information about Ad-Aware, please visit the manufacturer's website at: http://www.lavasoft.de/
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