Quick Spyware Detection
It's easy to detect spyware which may have found its way to your hard drive. You don't even have to load any software. There are many places on the Internet where you can use an online tool to quickly scan your computer. I used one such tool for this article: CA's Online Threat Scanner. (Note: Only IE 5 and above is supported.)
Before we look at how this works, it’s important to understand that not all online or downloadable quick spyware checkers are safe. In fact, many spyware distributors get you to install their spyware by providing a spyware scanner to find other people's spyware. Even worse, cybercriminals may try to take over your machine by ostensibly offering a free scanner. So only use tools, whether online or not, from sources your trust.
To run OTS, I had to accept a EULA (end-user license agreement). I also had to download signature files which help the scanner locate spyware and viruses. Even if you have an anti-virus program installed- if you don't you have bigger problems than spyware- it never hurts to get a second opinion.
Figure 1 shows the scan in progress. When it completed, it reported that my test system had over 200 low-level risk cookies installed. Like most online scanners, OTS did not provide a way to remove them. Instead, I was asked to purchase a product to complete the process.
Fee-based and free spyware scanners, cookie management, and other preventive and removal methods are topics we examine in the next two articles.