Security Super Guide
Free Antispyware Unfortunately, there isn't a standout choice for free spyware protection. Spybot and Ad-Aware, once the champions of spyware protection, just can't keep up with the current onslaught. Microsoft's Windows Defender (built into Vista and OneCare) seems to be backsliding—at least, when I retested it recently it did worse than previously. And though Tenebril's SpyCatcher Express turned in a decent performance in 2005, my tests weren't as stringent then.
Your free antivirus's real-time protection will block some spyware installations, and you can choose whichever free spyware program seems best to you. But do supplement your protection by running the scan-only free version of Spy Sweeper (Webroot Software) or Spyware Doctor (PC Tools). Don't worry if they find suspicious cookies. However, if the report says you have actual malicious software, you'll need to either bite the bullet and buy the full product or go for free expert help.
How do you get that free help? Visit http://www.spywarewarrior.com, http://www.temerc.com, http://www.bleepingcomputer.com, or one of the many other sites that host the HijackThis! (HJT) utility. Download HJT and run it—just save a log, don't take any action. Upload your log to the help forums at the site where you downloaded HJT. The experts will take it from there, offering specific and individualized cleanup instructions. After logging and cleanup, you'll have the cleanest computer in the neighborhood.
Me thinks that's my first major publication acknowledgment.
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