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.
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.