These days, spyware seems to be lurking around every dark corner of the Web.
No matter how conscientiously you behave when you download software or surf your favourite sites, invasive applications still can penetrate your machine.
Therefore, it's important to obtain effective protection and adhere to a strict system-cleaning regimen. Though some might suggest staying offline completely is the only foolproof privacy solution, allowing harmless cookies to remember your settings at particular sites isn't that big of a deal. With the right software tools and a little know-how, you can keep malicious intruders at bay, without watering down your Web-surfing experience.
The first thing you need to do is choose a personal firewall to make sure would-be criminals can't gain access to your computer. If your PC is already infected, a firewall will stop offending applications from reporting back to the mother ship. A number of commercial options are available, but to safeguard your system immediately, you're going to want a trustworthy free program until you decide which firewall to buy. In fact, some free firewalls provide sufficient protection against attacks, but the paid versions offer more features that might be worth your money.
Getting a good firewall program is only part of the solution. Next, you'll need to get one or more antispyware apps to check your system for current culprits. You should also start a regimen of checking your computer on a weekly (or daily) basis for new or repeat offenders.
The best antispyware software scans your hard drive for offenders and lets you obliterate them with the click of a button. These apps offer easy-to-use update features, so you can catch the latest forms of adware and spyware as soon as they hit the Internet. Some of these programs also can be used to clear traces of PC activities and Web-surfing history, quite useful if you share your computer. As a bit of added insurance, we recommend using several spyware-removal programs to make sure your system is spic-and-span. See our reviews of twelve leading applications below.