Tips for spyware and adware prevention
*This is a work in progress
1. Use a better browser. Ask just about any IT person who either supports computers or designs websites and they will tell you they do NOT use Internet Explorer. I believe that Internet Explorer 8 is better than ever, but there are alternatives with features you won’t find in IE. I personally use Google Chrome. It is VERY fast, has all of the features I require (like tabbed browsing) and displays 99% of the pages I visit properly. I previously used Firefox for years for the same reasons I use Chrome now. The reason I switched was simply for speed and performance (Firefox uses quite a bit of memory and is slower to start up). I have all of the same options and extensions in both of these great browsers.
The best part about these browsers, for purposes of this article, are the extensions/add-ons. There are endless amounts of them. I have found that AdBlock (Available for Chrome and Firefox) helps prevent spyware by simply not displaying the ads that contain harmful links. The added bonus is more real estate and less flashy junk adds in your way when you are surfing. There are thousands of other addons that can make life easier. Chances are if you can think of a feature you want in your browser, someone has already created a way to do it.
2. We recommend the following programs for prevention and cleanup of malicious programs:
A good Antivirus like: NOD32, Microsoft Security Essentials, Avira or Comodo Internet Security. All of these are even free for home use with the exception of NOD32.
MalwareBytes: Free program that will scan your computer for “malware”. The paid version runs in the background alongside your antivirus and prevents intrusions before they happen.
ComboFix: A free tool, mainly used by techs like us, that will simply scan your computer, kill and remove hundreds of the latest spyware apps, then reboot and show you a log of what it found. This is THE #1 tool in removing those hard to get spyware apps off of your computer. NOTE: Be sure to download the latest version each tiem you use it. Only use the links from bleepingcomputer.com to download this program, otherwise you may be installing more spyware!
System Restore: This feature is included in Windows XP and later. We have found that restoring a computer back a day or two before malicious spyware was installed will allow us to use other tools above to completely cleanup a computer. This tool can be run in Safe Mode, as well. Look under Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> System Restore. Choose a date to restore your computer to and let it happen. This basically restores your Windows registry, effectively removing any programs that you had installed since the checkpoint, but leaving ALL of your documents and data intact.