Coly Computer Help

Dealing with Spies

Spies are now a bigger menace than viruses. I am increasingly called out to fix internet or email programs which refuse to connect because they have been crippled by spies. A computer slowing down, or failing to shut down, are also symptoms of spy infestation. Spies often disable anti-spy and anti-virus programs.

Some spies are scam diallers that automatically make premium rate calls at £1.50 or £4.50 per minute which results in a horrendous phone bill. If you are with BT, ask BT to block your access to premium rate numbers. Diallers only work on dialup accounts, broadband is safe from these pests.

Some spies introduce Trojans into your computer, others record your keystrokes and send the information to the creators of the Spy program.

The Windows Defender, McAfee, and Norton anti-spy programs are in my opinion not fully effective, but they are improving as time goes by. However Windows Defender is good at dealing with changes to the Hosts file.

One of the most frequent causes of spy infestation is due to children downloading illegal free music. If your child has accessed Kazaa, Limewire, Blubster, Grokster, Gnutellea, or any similar illegal file sharing site you will be in deep trouble from spies. You will also probably be pestered by pornographic sites.

If you see offers for free Search Bars, free Browser Helpers, or free anything and you did not ask for them, kill them, if you accept the offer you will be plagued with spies.

Spies can also hijack computers. Hijackers take over your Internet browser (such as Internet Explorer) and re-direct you away from your home page. They present you with either a blank page or an unwanted page. Click Here to learn how to deal with this.

Update each anti-spy program once a month:
Update SpyBot: When you are connected to the internet, minimize Internet Explorer by clicking the the minus sign at the top right of its window. Open SpyBot then click Search for Updates. Ignore all the pretty flags (the mirror sites) in the next window and click Continue.
You will see ticked boxes and grey spanners. Ignore the fact that two or three items are not ticked. Click the green down-arrow labelled Download. If everything downloads successfully, click the Exit symbol which is a green plug and an orange socket. Then close down SpyBot.
Should any of the downloads fail you will see a red disk with a white cross and the words Bad Checksum. In this case Click Back to return to the Mirror list. Select any other mirror site and click the green down-arrow labelled Download.
Immunising: If one of the updates refers to immunization, you will be asked to ‘immunize’ after the download. In this case, after the download, click the blue and white shield labelled Immunize. Then click the button (at the upper part of the window) that has a green plus sign and the word Immunize. When the immunisation has completed, close down SpyBot.

To Update Ad-Aware: Connect to the internet. Open Ad-Aware, then click the Update button. Click Yes when it asks you if you want the latest definitions. Also click Yes if it asks you if you would like the latest update for the program. Sadly Ad-Aware does not show a progress bar, so be patient and wait until it tells you that the update is installed. Then close down Ad-Aware.



Go to top of page Go to top of page

Adrian West © 2007 computer help, computer problems solved
A West web design (click here for an example)

If you are on broadband, download the two of these free anti-spy programs;
(i) Spybot Search & Destroy version 1.6 from
(ii) Ad-Aware AE from
(iii) SuperAntiSpyware. This free program seems to be very effective at detecting scareware as well as spies and Trojans. Download from:-

If you are on dial-up: The magazine PC Advisor usually has a cover DVD that includes Ad-Aware and Spybot, this will save you having to spend hours downloading them

For an excellent paid-for anti-spy program use PC Tools Spyware Doctor. Its annual subscription is only about £15 ($30). Make sure it is PC Tools Spyware Doctor , there are similarly named rogue programs out there.

If your current version of Ad-Aware downloads no more that 5%, the program has become obsolete. You will need to download Ad-Aware free AE .

Save the down loaded spy programs to your Downloads folder then double click each one to install them.

During the installation of SpyBot, it will uninstall an older version automatically. Click Next when you see requests to back up the registry, register the product, update and immunise. You will have to go on-line and update SpyBot before you can use it. See below to learn how to Update SpyBot.

During the installation of Ad-Aware, select Standard Installation. Ad-Aware it will offer to uninstall an older version, if so, choose Automatic and click Finish. When asked to enter licence information, click the Free button. Download any newer bits for the program. If you see a panel with boxes and red letters, click Yes to download the extras. A new Ad-Aware icon will be placed on the desktop, a blue/green globe with a yellow letter 'A' wrapped around it.

Scan once a week with SpyBot and Ad-Aware: DO NOT GO ON LINE TO SCAN .

Scan with SpyBot 1.6.2: . Open SpyBot from the icon on the Desktop. Click Check for problems. SpyBot will scan your computer. At the bottom of the window you will see the names of the Spyware it is looking for (not what it has found). Eventually it will say Congratulations if your computer is free of Spyware. Or, if it has found some spies, click Fix the Problems

Scan with Ad-Aware 2008: Open Ad-Aware and click the Scan button on the lower right of the window. With Smart scan selected, click the Scan button at bottom right. A progress screen appears. When the scan is complete the Stop scan button label will change to Finish. Don't click the Finish button yet. You will now see three tabs higher up in the window. At the bottom, you will see a summary of what was found. You only need to remove the Critical items. The others are usually harmless. I ignore the non-critical MRU items under the Privacy Objects tab. If you remove these MRUs, this clears out the addresses from the drop down list in the Address bar of Internet Explorer. I like to keep this.
Under the Critical Objects tab, if nothing is shown below the headings 'Family' 'Category' 'TAI' then click the Finish button .

Unhandled objects: You will see a pop-up saying something about unhandled objects. Click No .

If under critical objects some spies are present under the headings 'Family' 'Category' 'TAI ' then tick their boxes and click the Remove button. Then click the Finish button and say No to the ‘unhandled’ objects pop-up. Close Ad-Aware.

Jargon    Troubleshoot    How To...    About this site     Suggestion    Donation    Home Page