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What is spyware?

Spyware is a general term that is used to describe software that in some way records your activities when you are using your PC. Spyware may be used to improve the accuracy of the ads that are displayed to you as you browser the web or in a more sinister application, it could be used to collect personal information or change the configuration of your computer without giving you any warnings and you may never know that it is even happening until it's too late.

Not all software that can be classed as "Spyware" may be bad. For example, you might download a piece of free software that delivers ads directly to you within the application. The income from these ads is used to subsidise the ability of the provider to provide the software for free in the first place. This sort of software usually notifies you of the targeted ads within the terms and conditions that are displayed as part of its installation process and quite often, you will be able to find a "paid for" version of the software that does not deliver ads at all.

Removal and prevention

In an ideal world, the target is to keep your PC free from any form of spyware and there are many tools that can be used to help in this process. Some anti-virus software provides good cover for spyware as well as the usual virus detection however, you may wish to install a dedicated spyware prevention application to augment your anti-virus software. Listed below are some of the more popular applications that can help prevent and remove spyware that may have found its way onto your PC.

Rootkits

A rootkit is a set of software tools intended to conceal running processes, files or system data from the operating system and therefore the computers users. Rootkits are used to keep spyware and other forms of malware hidden from the victim in order to maintain access to systems whilst avoiding detection.

Like Spyware, rootkits often modify parts of the operating system or install themselves as drivers or kernel modules in order to make their detection and removal more difficult and this process often results in the PC having to be formatted and have all of its software re-installed from scratch in order to ensure that the rootkit is successfully removed.

To see if your Windows PC has a rootkit installed, you can download the software below and scan your PC. If a rootkit is installed and hidden, it is likely that this software will detect and reveal it.

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