We are living through the death of privacy, a time when our data is harvested and shared by multiple third parties in order to market to us more successfully. And that's the legitimate side of things. Given that these days all malware is intended to part us with money, the illegitimate harvesting of our information is also a growth industry. Often we are tricked into giving away details, but there is also the software vector of attack: spyware.
Spyware takes many forms. Broadly speaking it is software used by cybercriminals to burrow into our PCs and laptops, to find data and pass it back to gangs in order to be used by them for criminal means, or to be sold on. You can acquire spyware when installing legitimate software, visiting dodgy websites or clicking links in unsolicited emails. You will suspect you have spyware when you notice your machine slowing down, or network activity is taken place when it shouldn't be.
If you're having a larger issue with malware, have a look at our guide on how to remove viruses from your PC or laptop.
Which antispyware software should I use?
The majority of threats you encounter online are referred to as malware. This is a collective term for spyware, adware, viruses, trogans, root kits and all manner of other malicious software. You should already be running security software on your machine, this along with your firewall is your first line of defence and helps prevent you from getting infected in the first place. If you suspect you have spyware on your machine and your security package isn't picking it up, we're going to need something more surgical to remove it.
First of all, run a scan with your current security software to make sure that has cleaned up everything that it can.
If that comes back clean, then go and download Malwarebytes. This is a great anti-malware tool, and the home version is completely free. It will remove any spyware you have on your machine, and will check for a whole host of other threats too.
When it's finished it should have removed anything nasty or malicious residing on your machine, leaving you free to enjoy the internet without the threat of anything nasty lurking on your laptop or PC.