The Best Anti-Spyware Software Review & Buyers Guide

This buyer’s guide introduces to you the top anti-spyware software solutions that provide you the best protection from spyware and other malicious threats. Besides blocking these threats, these anti-spyware software solutions also ensure complete removal of spyware and other malware types from the device’s operating system.

We’re also highlighting the features to look for that fight off threats from day zero whether it is for personal device security or business and enterprise security.


Comparison Of The 5 Best-selling Spyware Removal Software

A quick overview of top spyware software solutions with their features and specifications.

Product Advanced Scanning File Protection Anti-Keylogger Containment Technology Machine Learning
McAfee Total Protection
    
Read McAfee Review
BitDefender Total Security
    
Norton 360 Standard
    
Avast Premium Security
    
Read Avast Review
Malwarebytes
    

1. McAfee Total Protection

No. 1 Best Choice

McAfee produces several Internet security suites and software firewall protection solutions. While McAfee Endpoint Security caters to businesses and enterprises, McAfee Total Protection keeps your devices at home safe from cyber threats.

McAfee Total Protection can defend all your devices on a network or in the cloud from cybersecurity threats. The comprehensive protection that it brings guards you even from sophisticated malware starting from day zero.

Key Features

  • Adaptive Threat Protection

McAfee can examine enterprise content and decide what to do based on file reputation, rules, and thresholds. It can immediately detect compromised systems.

  • Dynamic Application Containment

It looks at suspicious executables and stops malicious actions the moment it enters the network. This solution uses accountable threat forensics that separates infection in a containment system so that no other files or programs get infected or changed.

  • Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence

Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) go hand in hand in most technology nowadays, learning the system and adapting to threats as they enter. With machine learning, the solution can use advanced analytics to unmask evasive threats, protecting your device from day zero in real-time.

  • Endpoint Encryption

One of the best ways to protect data is to scramble it through encryption. This will make it unreadable and unusable to any user or hackers unless the right owner has the correct decryption key to access it.


2. BitDefender Total Security

No. 2 Best Choice

BitDefender Total Security keeps your devices safe from the cyber threats of spyware, viruses, ransomware, and other forms of malware that can compromise your personal and financial data. It also scans all your downloads before malicious files can have time to change or damage your devices’ operating system.

Key Features

  • Anti-spyware & Anti-malware

BitDefender Total Security comes with a sophisticated anti-malware engine that thoroughly scans malicious applications. With this versatile security suite, your devices remain safe from the cyber threats of spyware and other forms of malware.

  • File Shredding & Encryption

Most of the spyware detection you can see today defends your computer but doesn’t have any protection feature for your files. BitDefender focuses on this area through tough encryption and file shredding technique.

  • Private Information Protection

BitDefender also provides web protection blocking dangerous websites and online threats. You can stay protected against cybercriminals that are attempting to steal your information as you browse the Internet.

  • Parental Control

You can also set rules on specific websites or web content if you have children at home. This software has the capability to filter content, limit screen time, and track location.


3. Norton 360 Standard

No. 3 Best Choice

Norton 360 by Symantec is an all-in-one solution for malicious threats on devices and networks. It works as an aggressive spyware removal tool that removes and detects potentially unwanted programs. It also has security tools that protect your files and passwords in a secure cloud-based vault.

Key Features

  • Device Security

The device security feature gives you real-time protection against ransomware, spyware, viruses, and other online threats for multiple devices.

  • Online Threat Protection

When you go shopping online, your data and information become at risk to hackers which spy on your computer through spyware and other forms of malware. The online threat protection from Norton 360 helps protect your private and financial information from these threats.

  • Power Eraser

The Power Eraser feature can scan threats that traditional virus scanning isn’t able to detect.

  • SafeCam and Parental Control

You can set parental controls and limits to websites for your children. With SafeCam feature, you get alerts regarding any attempt to access your webcam, prompting you to block unauthorized access.


4. Avast Premium Security

No. 4 Best Choice

Avast Premium Security goes beyond what other anti-spyware solutions can do. Apart from anti-malware, it also comes with ransomware shields that stop cybercriminals who can hostage your private information. It thoroughly scans your entire network for potential vulnerabilities.

This software also keeps fake websites at bay to protect you from being a victim of online fraud and malicious programs. Avast Security Premium goes well with popular operating systems.

Key Features

  • Core Shields

Avast Premium Security’s Core Shields are enabled by default, providing users with maximized threat protection. These Shields are Behavior Shield, File Shield, Mail Shield, and Web Shield.

  • Smart Scan

Avast’s Premium Security software suite does comprehensive system scans that can identify malware not only spyware but also trojan horses, viruses, and worms.

  • Wi-Fi Inspector

Avast scans your Wi-Fi network for potential loopholes that might cause threats to penetrate. Wi-Fi Inspector evaluates the your network setup and the different devices hooked up to it.

  • Ransomware Shield

This comprehensive anti-spyware solution keeps your sensitive files away from ransomware threats. Ransomware Shield looks into and defends folders that may have personal information.


5. Malwarebytes

No. 5 Best Choice

Malwarebytes, unlike the previous products that we mentioned, is not a complete suite and won’t be able to compete with existing antiviruses like McAfee or Comodo. It cannot provide all malicious threats protection. However, when combined with other antivirus solutions, it can target the newest online threats that existing solutions cannot provide. It has a powerful scanning technology that checks registry value and keys, files, and running processes.

What’s good about Malwarebytes is that it requires less configuration and ongoing maintenance than other spyware removal tools.

Key Features

  • Anomaly Detection

One of the best examples of anomalous data is bank fraud. Malwarebytes detects anomalous data by looking at substantial changes in network behavior. This makes it less prone to false positives or new-grade threats with new behaviors made in the network or device.

  • Behavior Matching

Once it has identified a threat, Malwarebytes contextualizes the new program concerning other traffic and historical roles. When it can cross off security checks, that’s when it’s able to identify if it is safe.

  • Katana Engine

The Katana Engine is an updated engine that powers Malwarebytes which combine new detection technologies with existing detection engines to bring greater security.

  • Zero-hour detection

Threats that can wreak havoc in your device are identified and removed as they arise.


What Is Spyware?

Spyware is a form of malware that enables hackers to steal information without the knowledge of unsuspecting users. Hackers can get personal information by peeking at computer activity, changing your computer’s configuration, attaching spyware to software downloads, or links clicked on by users. Spyware can also be included in built-in features and plugins that you install on your browser.

There are three common subsets of spyware: adware, scumware, and keyloggers.

Adware is usually used by marketing companies so they can track users who visit their site and click on their marketing banners. Although this was purely made for sales-generating purposes, hackers made this an opportunity to steal people’s information.

Scumware is another type of spyware that changes the appearance of websites, replacing banner ads with their own.

Keyloggers log keystrokes on your computer keyboard, which is one of the most common ways hackers can steal your password. IDs, passwords, bank account numbers, and credit card information are logged and sent to a server location managed by the hacker.

Spyware is often used by government agencies, law enforcement, and security organizations to spy on communications during an investigation. While spyware can be helpful in that area, user information is compromised when used for personal gain. Hence, security solutions should be used to detect spyware. Anti-spyware solutions today keep up with such threats.

Why Do You Need Anti-Spyware Software?

A security solution that either focuses on spyware removal or includes anti-spyware in their line of features must be able to locate and remove malicious programs. While antivirus suites seem enough, some of them cannot do deep scans that can detect spyware as these work like cookies that conduct infiltration activities until they are removed by anti-spyware tools.

Signs of Spyware Infection

Here are the warning signs that your computer got a spyware infection. Some of these signs share the same list as a virus though as you go through these checklists, you will see the difference in the changes they make to your PC. If you notice any of these signs, best to fend off the infection by installing anti-spyware software.

– Poor PC performance

– Frequent crashes

– Pop-up messages

– Redirected web searches

– Unusual error messages

– Suspicious shortcut files

– Suspicious modem and hard drive activity

– Unidentified sent emails

– Hijacked homepage

– Lack of storage space

8 Most Common Types Of Spyware Affecting Computers

Like viruses and other forms of malware, spyware programs have evolved over the years. Today, they come in a wide variety of forms with each of them having a unique way of getting installed on a device, running in the background, and attempting to steal one of our most valuable assets – our personal data.

Keyboard Loggers

Also known as keystroke loggers or keyloggers, these spyware record keystrokes on specific types of keyboards. Keyloggers fall into two categories, software and hardware, with the former being the most common. Software keyloggers get installed in a computer through another malware and run in the background without the user’s consent.

Banking Trojans

Disguising as a safe program, banking Trojans steal your banking information. Once the program has the details, the malware developer gets access to your bank account and makes transactions.

Info Stealers

The umbrella term for any malicious program that steals your information. Info stealers can also steal other details like stored usernames and passwords, credit card and bank credentials, and personal info stored on your computer.

Adware

Advertising-supported software collects data to display the ads tailored to the user’s search history. Adware then displays or downloads customized advertisements.

Pornware

A type of adware that displays ads with pornographic content as they get deliberate clicks.

Modem Hijacker

This spyware type changes your Internet browser settings often by changing your homepage and search settings to insert unwanted ads and open unwanted websites.

Riskware

This type of spyware can cause damage by copying or deleting data to disrupt computer performance. Riskware can be in the form of remote access programs, chat dealers, app downloads, etc.

Web Bugs

These refer to objects placed on your browser so hackers can monitor your behavior. Unlike cookies that you can accept or decline, web bugs just install themselves.

Top 8 Most Popular/ Dangerous/ Widespread Spyware

#1 Gator

The first known widespread spyware, Gator’s purpose was stated in Clara Corporation’s end-user license agreement (EULA). However, computer users during that time were not aware that their privacy was invaded. Since Gator’s issue, users became more conscious about the programs that they install and run on their devices.

#2 Dyfuca

Also known as Internet Optimizer, Dyfuca is an error page optimizer that directs Internet Explorer users to advertising pages when they mistype the page address or visit broken URLs.

#3 CoolWebSearch

One of the most notorious examples of browser hijacker software, CoolWebSearch not only slows down your computer performance but also affects your Internet and browsing speed. CoolWebSearch hijacks your browser, changes your search settings, and installs bookmarks. Computers get infected with CoolWebSearch through file-sharing, torrent downloading, and any similar activity.

#4 Pegasus

Pegasus has infected computers on a global scale and it has something to do with installing WhatsApp. The popular messaging app confirmed that it used to install Pegasus spyware in over 45 countries. Although it advertises itself as a safe and secure messaging app because of its end-to-end encryption, this claim is no use if it carries spyware. Instead of computers, it targets mobile users running on some versions of iOS and Android. The NSO Group created this mobile phone spyware suite to target users penetrating security features on their phone before beginning to install Pegasus.

#5 Chrysaor

The same company that created Pegasus later created Chrysaor. This spyware steals communication data and takes control of your phone’s camera to spy on your surroundings supposedly to pinpoint your location. It gathers data if you have one of these apps installed on your phone: WhatsApp, Gmail, Skype, Facebook, and Twitter.

#6 2ndThought

This spyware generates popup ads and redirects you to promotional websites. It can easily infect your computer if you often install freeware.

#7 Dark Seoul

Dark Seoul attacks started in 2013 targeting banks, government websites, and institutions in Seoul, South Korea.

#8 Triout

One of the latest spyware recently discovered by BitDefender, Triout snaps photos, records videos, and phone calls, and logs messages of its victims. Some experts expect Triout to be part of an espionage campaign, but no one can point out the entity behind it. Keeping your device’s operating system and veering away from unknown sites can help you steer clear of these threats.

Things To Consider When Choosing Anti-Spyware Software

Here are the top features to look for when buying or choosing an anti-spyware software.

Deep Scanning

The anti-spyware software should have a deep scanning technology that checks areas not scanned by antivirus software. Spyware acts as cookies installed within plugins and downloaded among software so deep scanning is one of the primary safeguards of protection.

Keylogger Protection

To protect you from hackers and prevent them from stealing your bank account and credit card information, one should enable the anti-keylogger feature from an anti-spyware solution.

Containment Technology

An advanced technique among security solutions, programs are run in a test environment so that any malicious activities when identified cannot change the program and network. This eliminates the risk of infecting other files.

Machine Learning

As threats adapt faster than new antivirus and spyware software is created, the solution should be ahead of the game. Machine learning and artificial intelligence look at past data and prepares for incoming threats as they arise.

File Encryption

As an added layer of protection, just in case spyware can pass through checks, the anti-spyware solution should also have a file encryption feature. This jumbles the files so they are unreadable and unuseful to hackers.