Spyware is software that secretly records what you do on your device. It’s not always dangerous and can be used for some legitimate purposes, but the majority of spyware is malicious. The main purpose for malicious spyware is to capture personal data such as passwords, banking credentials, credit card details etc. and send them to fraudsters via the internet. The purpose of anti-spyware software is to eliminate the chances of fraudsters getting hold of this kind of personal/private information.
How does spyware get onto your PC? The most common way is through downloading and installing un-verified/certified freeware from the internet. These can often be bundled with extra tools like video players, pc cleaners, you name it! These kinds of programs have the potential to collect your data and even act as key-loggers which record every single key press you make on your keyboard, this is an example of how fraudsters can get hold of your passwords and credit card details.
Spyware also has the ability to steal memory, processing power and bandwidth from a device which results in poor performance and in extreme cases, the blue screen of death and crashing!
Does free anti-spyware software actually work and are they useful? There isn’t a huge market for standalone anti-spyware products, as it’s one of the least malicious form of virus out there. Nevertheless, there is still a few free solutions bobbing around on the internet. Another reason why anti-spyware doesn’t seem to get much attention is that almost all anti-virus software will include anti-spyware capabilities and so in most cases it would be completely pointless to run anti-virus software and anti-spyware software simultaneously. If your anti-virus doesn’t include anti-spyware tools then of course this doesn’t apply to you and you should definitely consider installing anti-spyware software as soon as possible.
Free tools can work very well especially if you’re already running an anti-virus (one that doesn’t include anti-spyware features). Running multiple programs does however have its drawbacks. The two together can confuse the computer, cause clashes in scans and it means you have to monitor two programs.
Spyware will only cause you problems if you’re accessing the world-wide-web and so because of this we would recommend you install a paid anti-virus software with additional features like browser protection and a spam filter, but of course check that it also includes an anti-spyware, this way you’ll be completely covered!