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Have Any Spy in Your PC?

October 21, 2006


If you only have antivirus and firewall softwares installed in your PC (and for Win XP users, better not use the ones from Win XP), it’s likely that you have many, if not hundreds, spywares resided in your PC without your knowledge. Not mention if you use IE for Internet surfing. You can follow the below instruction to check if you have any (it’s free)*:

1. Please download/install AVG Anti-Spyware 7.5 (full version for 30 days; after that it becomes the feature-limited freeware; i.e. no resident shield and automatic update) from here

Launch/start up AVG Anti-Spyware. On the main page click the ‘Update’ tab, and then ‘Start Update’. Once the updates have been installed, do the following:

Select the ‘Scanner’ icon at the top of the screen, then select the ‘Settings’ tab.
Once in the ‘Settings’ screen, click on ‘Recommended actions’, then select ‘Quarantine’.

Click the ‘Scanner’ icon at the top. To start the scan,click on ‘Complete System Scan’. Please be patient, it takes a while for the scan to finish.

Once the scan is complete, if AVG Anti-Spyware detected any infections, click on ‘Apply All Actions’. Next click on ‘Save Report’. The report can also be found under the ‘Reports’ tab at the top. Close AVG Anti-Spyware when you’ve done.

2. Please run F-Secure online virus/spyware scan (it requires IE & its scan is much slower) from here

Follow the directions in the F-Secure page for proper Installation. Accept the License Agreement. Once the ActiveX installs, Click ‘Custom Scan’ and be sure the following are checked:

  • Scan whole System
  • Scan all files
  • Scan whole system for rootkits
  • Scan whole system for spyware
  • Scan inside archives
  • Use advanced heuristics

Once the download completes, the scan will begin automatically. The scan will take some time to finish, so please be patient.
When the scan completes, click the ‘I want to decide item by item’ button. For each item found, Select ‘Disinfect’ and click ‘Next’.

If you are still not sure about some program running at start-up (listed in the “process” from Windows Task Manager — press Ctrl-Alt-Delete to call it up front), you can submit the program at this site (use “browse” button to locate the program). It uses several tools to scan that program and reports to you the result.

If you get lots of spywares, you should consider to install at least one anti-spyware software. However, not any anti-spyware software is good. Here is a list of trustworthy ones.

I have been using Ad-Aware SE Personal for several years. It doesn’t provide Ad-watch and automatic update. That’s fine for a freeware and I manually scanned my PC twice or once per month. Since I used Firefox, I only got 2-3 spywares per scan, all from using IE. But recently, I found one program crushed just after starting up Win XP Pro. Once was fine but two or three times got my nerve. I followed the suggestion from forum to scan my whole hard drives, and some spywares were picked up.

Was it because Ad-Aware SE Personal wasn’t good? Well, maybe. According to the PC World’s review in August “Spyware Fighters” (chart), Ad-Aware SE Professional (with Ad-Watch & automatic update) ranked fourth out of five softwares in performance. And another popular freeware, Spybot, was worst in this review. Another reason is that I only did the smart system scan after the first full system scan. Some spyware was spotted in one regular file folder, which was looked at for a long time. After this, taking me lots of time in learning and running the scans, I decided I should install a full-version anti-spyware software. I chose AVG over Spyware Sweeper only because the latter is a little bit “fat” in file size.

Oh, as for the program in question, after submit to this site to check, it found nothing wrong.

* If you find something strange in your PC (e.g. too slow suddenly), first you need to use Hijack This to scan and get the log of what’s running (do not use its delete function without asking experts what the suspicious program is). You may need to run Look2Me-Destroyer.exe before doing the above two steps. Run Hijack This again after scanning (including 1 & 2) to get another list of programs to be compared with the previous one.

PS: By the way, Microsoft has an anit-spyware software called Windows Defender, but I didn’t bother to try.

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