What's New!

Chat with

How to Defend
Your Computer 

The Guides
to (mostly) 
Harmless Hacking

Happy Hacker 
Digests (old stuff) 

Hacker Links 


Meet the 
Happy Hacksters 

Help for 



It Sucks 
to Be Me!

How to Commit
Computer Crime (not)! 

What Is a 
Hacker, Anyhow? 

Have a 
Great Life! 

News from the 
Hacker War Front

How to Get Rid of Adware and Spyware

What is adware? Some forms of adware make your browser open up web pages against your will. They often reset your home page. Other adware programs are more sneaky. They feed popup ads to your browser, making it look as if the web site you are browsing is sending them.

What is spyware? It is any sort of program that snoops on your computer and sends information out to mysterious people or companies. Spyware is far more sneaky than adware. Even if you have a firewall, a program that you have permitted to access the Internet may be also sending out information it has stolen from you. Most spyware programs just snoop on your web browsing activities. Some are far more dangerous, stealing passwords, credit card and banking information.

How does your computer get infected? One way is to visit a malicious web site while using a vulnerable browser (almost always Internet Explorer). The other way is by installing free software that hides adware or spyware.

Why won't antivirus programs eradicate all adware or spyware? The trick that forces antivirus companies to ignore most adware and spyware is that EULA (end user license agreement) that you sign when you install free software from the Internet. For example, many porn sites require that you click on a box that says it will install something to enhance your viewing pleasure, maybe a video program. Once you click on that EULA, you have given permission for the provider of the software to also install adware or spyware.

How to get rid of adware and spyware. For instant free help, try Ad-aware,
http://lavasoft.element5.com/software/adaware, and Spybot, http://www.safer-networking.org. You can use one or both together, as they are compatible. In addition, if you are more of a power user, you can install BHODemon. It is free from http://www.definitivesolutions.com/bhodemon.htm. It enables you to control the "browser helper objects" of Internet Explorer (IE). Adware and spyware and some viruses and worms exploit IE. Watch out for fake products! Some actually install adware or spyware instead of removing it!

To prevent future infections, use a browser that isn't so vulnerable to attack. Don't use Internet Explorer! For free, safe browsers, check out http://www.mozilla.org and http://www.opera.com.


A rootkit is a trojan that hides on your computer and allows other people to senak into it and snoop on you and turn your computer into a "zombie. Rootkits might hide all sorts of terrible things insiode your computer.. See this news story for details on the threat of zombie computers.

You can check to see if there is a rootkit installed on your computer with F-Secure BlackLight, RootkitRevealer by SysInternals, or RootKit Hook Analyzer.

If you discover your computer is infected with a rootkit, if you already had an antivirus program running, obviously the antivirus program wasn't able to defend your computer. Usually what will work is to uninstall your old antivirus program, install a new one and give it a chance to attack the rootkit.

Free Antivirus programs

AVG Free, AntiVir PersonalEdition Classic, Avast! 4 Home Edition, BitDefender 8 Free Edition

Warning! No antivirus program is good enough to find everything that might have been sneaked into your computer if it was compromised with a rootkit. The only thing you accomplish by finding out which antivirus program can eradicate your rootkit is that this tells you which of them is a better antivirus program. If you want to be safe, after discovering a rootkit, you need to save your data, reformat your hard drive and reinstall every thing. Be sure to install your firewall and antivirus program -- the one that was good enough to eradicate the rootkit -- immediately after you reinstall your operating system or use the system restore disks that came with your computer. Don't install anything else, including your data, until after you get your antivirus program running.

Carolyn's most
popular book,
in 4th edition now!
For advanced
hacker studies,
read Carolyn's
Google Groups
Subscribe to Happy Hacker
Visit this group

© 2013 Happy Hacker All rights reserved.