Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
There are a few possible reasons why someone would become infected even if they run Anti-Spyware software.
Someone commented on my prior article about:blank hijacked my homepage - how do I fix it?:
After spending about $29.00 a shot for 5 or 6 different spyware removers ... I have decided to wack my hard drive and start over ... it's easier. None of the commercial things work ... and what's more frustrating is ... how did I get this? ... with firewalls, Norton, Spysweeper and other things running ... how do you prevent this from coming back?
It is frustrating. But there are several possible reasons you'd get reinfected.
It's not necessarily a losing battle, but it is a constant one.
Tip #1: Don't spend any money on anti-spyware. It's currently not worth it.
For what it's worth, I've never spent a dime on spyware removers/checkers and actually don't recommend that anyone do so. The free packages seem to be the best right now anyway even if none of them get you 100% coverage.
Tip #2: Run the right tools for the job.
Now, to the list of tools you mention that you're running, you should be aware that firewalls and most anti-virus programs give you no protection against spyware. None. So the fact that you're running with a firewall and are running Norton (Anti-Virus, I assume) is great, but for other reasons.
The only tool you've mentioned that would apply is Spysweeper by Webroot. The good news there is that it has a fairly good reputation.
Tip #3: Keep your tools up to date.
Even the right tool will not work properly if it doesn't have the latest and greatest definition of what spyware is. Spyware, like viruses, is a race. New spyware is being generated every day, and that means all the spyware scanners need to be updated regularly. Usually that's as simple as telling the scanner to update itself. Microsoft's even automates that process.
Tip #4: Use the tool's advanced features.
Spybot Search and Destroy and Microsoft's Anti-Spyware both have a feature called "inoculation" or "immunization". Other tools may have something similar. These features cause the tools to monitor for spyware-like behavior and either prevent it, or at least ask you about it, before it takes place. For example with either, you can prevent your Internet Explorer homepage from being changed by anyone. Hence, homepage hijacking is a thing of the past. Both keep an eye on registry changes as well. Look for these features in whatever anti-spyware program you choose, and turn these features on.
Tip #5: Don't be part of the problem.
All the protection in the world won't help if you engage in risky behavior. Download and install software only from places you trust. One of the largest sources of spyware anywhere are the peer-to-peer file sharing programs like Kazaa. They come loaded with spyware. Check out the reputation of a package before you install it. Don't open email attachments unless you know it's safe and legitimate.
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