Spyware Removal -
Six Twenty three Months Clean!
six twenty three (!) months since I went through
the final steps of spyware removal on my PC. And I'm happy to say
that it's been twenty three months of spyware-free computing. Spyware
removal and avoidance is a daunting task to the uninitiated. Yet for
those who have been through the battles, it's not insurmountable.
Heck, it's not even tough (sometimes). To be successful in removing
spyware, you must be methodical. Stick to your anti-spyware knitting
and you'll whip the nasty stuff, without a doubt.
My spyware-fighting methodology hasn't changed in these
fifteen months. I follow the same formula I set out back in June (2004).
Now I don't want to blame all the woes of the world on Microsoft Internet
Explorer, but it's easy to point to MSIE as the conduit for
Without further ado, here's a reprise of my action plan for spyware
removal and avoidance:
1. I got the right anti-spyware tools. After trying out StopZilla
and Spysweeper (both nice programs in their own right), I went back
to Spybot Search and Destroy ... then I added Lavasoft's Ad-Aware
to the mix. I've seen many folks rave about the combination of Spybot
and Ad-Aware. I'll join that chorus. It's frequently observed that
one program catches what the other may have missed. And that was certainly
true in my case.
NOTE: Other spyware removal tools may work for
you. Look at all you want, but only download spyware removal tools
from a trusted source. (There are too many evil-doers masquerading
as the real thing!)
2. I stopped using Microsoft Internet Explorer as my web browser.
But I didn't just switch back to Mozilla (and Mozilla Firefox). I
went into Internet Explorer's Options box and turned everything off.
And I mean everything.
After selecting Tools > Internet Options > Security > Custom
Level, I went into the checklist and disabled anything related to
ActiveX. I disabled file downloads and Java. I disabled the installation
of desktop items and the launching of programs and files in an IFRAME.
And I disabled every single scripting option.
3. Through it all, I spent much more time on my iMac. I'd switch over
to the iMac while in the midst of running Spybot and Ad-Aware. (This
happened more frequently than I would have liked. Running Spybot and
Ad-Aware multiple times each day was frustrating, to say the least.)
And now that I'm not using Microsoft Internet Explorer on my PC, I
use it (infrequently) on the Macintosh to check out those few (unfortunate)
websites that require the use of MSIE.
The thing that most drove me nuts? Spyware would reinstall itself
and spawn popup windows even when MSIE was not running. It was like
there was a ghost in the machine. I'd walk away from my desk, thinking
that my system was clean, only to find the screen covered in popup
windows upon my return. It was then that I realized how important
it was to turn off all of those options in MSIE. That action alone
takes the remote controls away from the nefarious spyware developers.
While my PC is no longer showing any spyware symptoms, I know that
there are still some evil files sitting on the hard drive. But because
I have shut down MSIE for good, those evil files can do no harm. (Well
... that's what I hope ... at least!)
My pain and suffering should is not for naught. I'm telling you my
story because this story can save you time and heartache. If you want
to remove spyware from your computer, you may want to follow these
1. Download and install Mozilla, Mozilla Firefox, or Opera.
2. Turn off all of MSIE's options (as above), then close the program
and never launch it again.
3. Download and install both Spybot and Ad-Aware.
4. Clean your system with back-to-back runs of Spybot and Ad-Aware.
5. Once the system is clean and everything is cool, run Spybot
and Ad-Aware on a periodic basis.
Truth be told, you may have to boot up in safe mode at some point.
And you may have to make some edits to your registry. Have faith and
remember to back up ... your quest for spyware removal will be successful!