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A Quick Guide for Eliminating Spyware and Hijacker Software

A Quick Guide for Eliminating Spyware and Hijacker Software - PCSTATS
Abstract: An unprotected computer used by a novice runs the risk of being infected mere minutes after a broadband connection to the Internet is formed. Links updated: 2019/10.
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: PCSTATS Aug 06 2004   M. Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > PCSTATS

Preventing spyware and browser hijacking

Never mind possession... prevention is nine-tenths of the law when it comes to avoiding spyware (unless you're already infected). The following steps will assure that your PC is as well protected as it can be against the horde of malware that lurks on the Internet.

Step 1: Keep Windows updated

As I've said before, this is the absolutely essential first step to any form of secure PC. You must keep Windows updated with new fixes and patches as they are released, or else any other security measures you take can be undermined by vulnerabilities within the operating system itself.

Use Windows Update, and if you are using XP, use the automatic updates too. The same goes for firewalls, anti-spyware and anti-virus software. Always update each time you use them also.

Step 2: Use a firewall

Firewalls can prevent problems with spyware and computer viruses by effectively closing off the ports of entry into your system from the Internet. In fact, that's exactly what they do; close the ports which allow your system to form connections with remote systems. A traditional firewall allows anything to leave your computer, but allows nothing in unless it has been requested.

For example, when you view a web site, your system first sends a request to the server that hosts that site, asking for the data needed to display the page. Any unsolicited data from outside the computer will be dropped, unless it has been specifically allowed.

Of course, a firewall will not prevent viruses or spyware coming into your system with requested data (such as an email-born virus, or a browser-hijacker that installs itself from a website). Despite this, firewalls are still an essential part of a secure system, since they prevent malicious users and software from intruding into your computer without your knowledge or consent. Most firewalls also conceal your computer by refusing the 'PING' requests used to locate computers over the Internet.

There are several types of firewalls available, including some excellent free choices. Windows XP comes with a built-in firewall, which is simple and effective. Any Home Internet sharing device (router) will come equipped with a firewall which will protect every PC hooked up to it.

When it comes to spyware defence, the best choice is a software firewall like Zonealarm or the Sygate personal Firewall (UPDATE: no longer available). The advantage of these products is that they also monitor and control data leaving your system. Since most forms of spyware and Trojan horse virus software do their damage by transmitting data out of your system, they can be found and contained by this type of firewall.

For more information on installing and configuring firewalls, see our guide here. For more background information on firewalls and Internet security, see this PCstats article.

Step 3: Use Anti-virus software

Another essential security step. Most anti-virus packages now protect against many forms of spyware and malware as well as traditional viruses. Use a major package like Symantec's or MaCafee's offerings and make sure you keep it updated. Most products will update themselves and scan your system automatically at intervals, but they cannot update if you are not connected to the Internet. See our article here for more details.

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Contents of Article: PCSTATS
 Pg 1.  A Quick Guide for Eliminating Spyware and Hijacker Software
 Pg 2.  Fixing a tough spyware problem
 Pg 3.  Methods of Elimination, continued...
 Pg 4.  — Preventing spyware and browser hijacking
 Pg 5.  Prevention: Scanning and Security

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