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What is Antispyware?

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  • Written By: Darlene Goodman
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 25 August 2016
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Antispyware is a type of computer software that is typically designed to detect and remove malicious or threatening programs from a computer. These programs are often called spyware, hinting at their propensity to collect and send an individual’s personal information to a third party without his or her consent. Antispyware is available in several formats, and at many different price ranges.

Spyware is a type of malicious program, also called malware, that sends information from a computer to a third party without the user’s knowledge or consent. The type of data retrieved by these programs varies, but many collect information about a user’s Internet-surfing habits, online purchases, and even keystrokes, such as passwords. Also, these programs may change the computer’s settings and functionality. Antispyware seeks to block or remove such programs.

There are two main ways that antispyware functions. The first is by catching incoming spyware in real time. This system scans computer transactions coming over the Internet. When it detects a potential spyware, it attempts to block it before the malicious program has a chance to lodge itself in the root directory, or another area, on the computer. This real time detection typically occurs at the time of download.

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The second type of antispyware uses an updateable list of known spyware to protect a computer. Many users frequently download new versions of this record to keep their protection software up-to-date. Instead of blocking potentially harmful programs from being downloaded, this type of software detects and removes those that have already loaded themselves onto the computer.

Antispyware of this type typically scans the registry, programs, and operating system files. Then, it compares these files to its list of known malware. If a file matches one on the list, the antispyware usually isolates and removes it.

Antispyware is available from many software companies. These programs may offer malware detection in real time, through an updateable list, or using a combination of both systems. Many of these programs stand alone, while others are bundled with an antivirus program. Several are offered for free download, if the program will be installed on a personal computer and not be used for commercial purposes.

Consumers in the market for antispyware should note that many programs advertising themselves as protection software are, in fact, spyware. As a result individuals should be cautious when downloading software off the Internet. Several technology websites give reviews of reputable downloads for concerned consumers.

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Discuss this Article

ElbowTickle
Post 6

@Almita -- Zeak4Hands has the right idea for everyday viruses, but I recommend using Malwarebytes too. It's a tiny little program that scans your computer for malware.

Avast! isn't that great at keeping malware from emails and ads from getting onto your computer. It's free too, but you have to have it run a scan to catch malware that's already on your computer. I just use Avast! and Malwarebytes together and I hardly ever get a virus on my computer. With all the viruses around, it's hard to enjoy all of the freebies out there on the net without good antivirus software. Happy surfing.

zeak4hands
Post 5

@Almita -- Avast! is the super antispyware program. I've been using it for years and it has fought off pretty much anything surfing can throw at me. It's free for the basic version so cost isn't any issue. I have only ever used the free version, but if you want to avoid running a weekly scan, upgrading might be a good idea. You only pay once and the upgraded versions do live scans while you surf. It works better than Norton, in my opinion.

Almita
Post 4

The Windows antispyware that ships with the new systems just doesn't work for me. My system came with Norton. My son likes to do game making with clip art and open source sounds clips -- so browsing to all the sites that share them is like dancing on a mine field!

We've gotten so many viruses on our family computer I'm afraid to use it at all! Does anyone know of a really good antispyware software that doesn't cost a fortune? Norton is a little costly.

runner101
Post 3

@bluespirit - It seems a quite a few people have experienced a PC slowdown after downloading antispyware or antivirus software, possibly because the software is checking so many items. However, most agree that you can now easily find antispyware or antivirus software that doesn't slow down your computer and it is worth it for the spyware and virus protection.

bluespirit
Post 2

A previous antispyware download I tried resulted in a serious slowdown of my computer! Has anyone else experienced this?

Sinbad
Post 1

I had no idea that so many so-called protective programs were actually spyware! Oh my. So I checked a technology website and did not find my free antispyware as one of the top-rated and subsequently changed my antispyware.

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