The Invisible Pirate - Defeating Spyware

This edition covers several recommended methods of defeating spyware. Surfing the web (anonymously or otherwise) should be a pleasurable pastime, not a tribulation that must be endured as your computer slows to a crawl, and finally becomes totally useless. If you can relate to the latter situation and would much prefer the former, this edition is for you.

I have tested and rejected numerous anti-spyware programs over the past two years. Only the cream of the current crop appears here. If you aren't running at least one of these programs and you paid to buy a different one, you wasted your money, probably still have spyware on your computer, and don't even know it.

The first thing you need to know is that running only one anti-spyware program is not enough to keep you from being infected with spyware. You need to run one good program resident and at least one other good program weekly. I don't recommend running more than one anti-spyware program resident at a time because doing so often results in false detections of spyware. Of course, if you don't stay on top of the updates (manual or auto) you are missing the point entirely. Let me save you many hours of testing and attempting to recover from a computer infected with spyware, for free. Enjoy!

CounterSpy *****

The king, period. Download it, install it, and run it resident. Ensure you have the auto-update feature enabled and schedule a daily scan. This is trialware, but the crack (serial) is available online. :)

Microsoft AntiSpyware *****

Freeware, excellent, and it works well. (MS bought this program from Giant Company Software and some of the Giant artifacts still appear.) I have run this program resident ever since it came out. Very little spyware gets past this program. Auto-update, scheduled scans, and other useful utilities are included. This is the program that you should be running resident if/when you are not running CounterSpy resident.

Ad-Aware *****

Shareware, does not expire, great against adware, I run it at least weekly, manual updates and scans.

Ewido Security Suite *****

Shareware, does not expire, great scanner, and very thorough. I run this program monthly just to make certain that my computer is not infected. Be advised, a scan takes quite awhile. Updates are available almost daily, but you have to do them manually.

SpywareBlaster *****

If you are one of the few people left on the planet still using Internet Explorer as your primary browser, you need to install this program. It will solve all of your ActiveX spyware problems. Also works with Mozilla/Firefox. Shareware, does not expire, manual updates available about every two weeks, and no scans needed.

CWShredder *****

Finds and destroys all traces of many variants of the CoolWebSearch browser hijacker. Also included with Trend Micro Anti-Spyware. If you have ever had to deal with the CWS browser hijacker, you will appreciate this program. Freeware, very capable, and fast.

Other Recommended Programs

All of these programs are similar, trialware or shareware, they all work well, and I use them as second-checkers. Online cracks available.

Spyware Doctor ****

XoftSpy ****

Trend Micro Anti-Spyware ****

What have I learned from all of this? Use Mozilla Firefox (not IE) to surf the web! When I made the switch, many months ago, my spyware problems essentially disappeared, overnight. Note that you should not uninstall IE because you will need ActiveX to download Windows updates. Now, the only other time I use IE is for testing software that will not work with Firefox. Invariably, whenever I do that, my computer contracts some kind of spyware within hours, even with all of the precautions that I take. Most of that spyware comes from downloading new toolbars or cracks. Heads up!

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Joe Blow is a privacy advocate with proven subspecialties in strategic planning.  Note: Pirate Poop is now a free newsletter, available by email only. Send all subscription requests to