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Adware, Spyware and other unwanted "malware" - and how to remove them

If you have a program that's bothering you at start-up, go here for info on getting rid of it.

are listed below.
General strategies for neutering Ad/Spyware
Useful for getting a "Drug Dealer Ware" monkey off your back.
See also: What is Drug Dealer Ware?
The Trouble with Spyware
Security and privacy concerns associated with advertising-supported software
Adware Uninstallers
Go here for programs that detect and remove malware files

Get help in's Discussion Forums

Xupiter Class-Action Lawsuit

A computer user has gotten so annoyed by Xupiter's auto-installing crud, he is taking the bastards to court and invites all others thusly afflicted to join in. Read more in this discussion thread.

Messenger Service Spam
Example of messenger service spam window Be on the lookout for Messenger Service Spam. This looks like all the usual crud you receive in your email (enlarge your whang, herbal viagra, university diplomas, mortgage etc.), but appears on your desktop in its own window while you're online. This is done by spammers exploiting Windows Messaging, a service present on Windows NT/2000/XP machines. This page has instructions to turn this service off and thwart the spammers.
If for some reason you need Windows messaging enabled, you can use a firewall to block outside messages as described in this MS Knowledge Base article.

Pest Database coming soon
Coming Soon (probably): A comprehensive, searchable database of malware will replace the (disorganized, incomplete, poorly-categorized) list below. You will be able to search for specific behaviours (e.g. "displays popup ads"), types of pests, search for suspicious filenames, etc., as well as obtain detailed information about the malware's author and what it does.


The following list is large and (for now) poorly-organized. You can use your browser's Find feature (Ctrl-F on many systems) to search for a specific product.

Advertising Spyware
Stealth advertising components that are installed by some "shareware" products (and sometimes, legitimately purchased commercial software) and may collect personal information from your computer. These "adbots" are usually tied to a dodgy shareware program you have installed.
Stealth components and background processes that may violate your privacy or expose your computer to attack.
"Backdoor Santas"
Non-stealth "freeware" and shareware apps that may transmit personal information or expose your computer to attack, under the pretense of providing a useful service.
Homepage Hijackers
Once one of these nasty ad-trojans worms onto your system, it will constantly reset your homepage (and maybe Search, etc.) to where they want you to go. You can't change it back!
Other Adware
Typically not hazardous, just annoying. These programs have bait-and-switched customers into viewing annoying blinky advertisements on the program's main window.
Foistware (Everything-installs-it-can't-get-rid-of-it)
Unwanted application programs that come along, trojan-style, with completely unrelated software. Usually because some jerk is getting paid to foist it on your system whether you want it or not. Since they tag along with so many different pieces of third-party software, it is not uncommon to get re-infected with these foistware products again and again.
Trojan Horses
Programs for the specific purpose of violating your privacy, stealing data, taking over or trashing your computer.
The Great Unknown
Some generally bad-behaving software whose purpose and motive are not clear...

Note: In the style of Yahoo's directory, "@" indicates a repeated listing.

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Spyware database search by
Could it be Spyware ?

Enter the name of the software and find out

Spyware & Trojan Lists
Doxdesk: Parasites -  List of many adware, spyware, hijackers and more, with full descriptions and removal information.
SpywareGuide - Searchable database of ad/spyware/etc., with removal instructions.

SpyChecker - a comprehensive, searchable list of software containing spyware. Spyware List - a searchable database of software containing spyware - similar to Spychecker.

Securify contains an extensive list of trojan horses and removers.

SISL - List of Known Spyware Infested Software - A somewhat out-of-date (last update June '01) list of spyware-infested software and the unwanted guests it installs

F-Secure Virus Screenshots - As some Trojans and virii present messages to the user, this site provides screenshots of them.

Exhaustive Trojan list from Simovits Consulting

SuraSoft spyware search - Another (fast) software-contains-spyware database.

Spyware/Adware Links : parasite lists them by the dozens, with concise and brief descriptions, removal instructions, etc. (unlike my own ten-page-rant tendancy :) - Has information on spyware, downloads, spyware announcements, forums and even a weekly newsletter. Home of a comprehensive page on browser homepage hijacking.

Gibson Research Corp.'s Steve Gibson brought the Spyware issue to the forefront with his in-depth analyses and the first ever (?) removal utility.

Don McCuiston's Anti-Adware Essay covers reverse- and social-engineering of the spyware apps; details how he obtained more information about how the spyware operates and who is responsible.

Parasites deals with useless 'malware' and software parasites, in addition to spyware programs. These parasites, while not necessarily a threat to privacy, waste disk space, processing and memory, often for no useful purpose.

ScumWare and ThiefWare discuss ad-overlay products such as Gator and EZula TopText. The products cover sites' banners with their own, and add advertising hyperlinks to those pages on the client side.
Sponge's Anti-Spyware Page - Step-by-step instructions to secure your system, aimed at novices; easy to understand information about cookies, spyware, how Internet protocols work, Denial of Service attacks and more.


Please email the Webmaster to report new spyware, broken links, errors or other problems, or recommend new links.

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