How do I find, and more importantly GET RID OF spyware?

  • Run a spyware scanner. This is definitely the first step and will usually clear up the problem. The most recommended free spyware scanners are:
    • Ad-Aware: Available from the Boreal library or via a free download at http://www.lavasoftusa.com.
    • Spybot Search and Destroy: Available via a free download from http://www.safer-networking.org.
    • Microsoft Defender: Available via a free download from Microsoft.  Please note - this will ONLY work on Windows XP service pack 2, and Windows 2000 service pack 4.  Also note - by default the Defender software detects but doesn't remove Claria.  Claria is spyware and should be removed if detected

    Recommended spyware scanners for purchase are:

  • Make sure you run the update for your spyware scanner before running the scan. Be cautious about downloading unknown spyware scanners - some so-called spyware scanners actually drop more spyware on your system.

  • Add/Remove Programs. Some of the more reputable spyware vendors will provide an uninstall option for their software. To see if an uninstall is available, click the [Start] button, then click [Settings] (except on some Windows XPs), [Control Panel]. Double-click the Add/Remove Programs icon, look through the list of software in the window that appears, and if you see a program you know is spyware, click on it and click the [Remove] button. (If you don't see the Add/Remove Programs icon in the Windows XP Control Panel, click the "Switch to classic view" link at the top left of the screen.)
  • Advanced Removal. Spyware scanners won't always be able to remove some of the more invasive spyware. If the same spyware shows up every time you run a scan or if the scan doesn't show any spyware but you're still having problems, you may need to be more agressive. CAUTION! Only try this if you're pretty tech savvy! If not, bring your computer in to be worked on.
    • Hijack This! Hijack This! is a scanner that will check for anything that's using the same methods spyware uses. Many of the things it finds are legitimate programs and utilities, so you should NOT just "fix" everything it finds! Before fixing anything it finds, you should post a log of your scan to a forum where experts can look it over and recommend what items you should have it fix. (If you don't know how to copy the log you probably shouldn't be using Hijack This.)

      You can download Hijack This! at http://www.spywareinfo.com/~merijn/downloads.html. There are several forums on the Internet where you can post logs - many are listed at Merjin.org Forums. If you're a Boreal member, you can also send a copy of your log to support@boreal.org and we'll give you some guidance on what items to have Hijack This! fix. (Please ONLY send us a Hijack This log if you've already tried running one of the spyware scanners listed above, and have not been able to completely remove your spyware.)

    • Manual Removal There are manual removal instructions for many types of spyware at http://doxdesk.com/parasite/.