Spyware is a type of malware that can root to your device without any notifications. This type of malware monitors your online activity and can cause some serious trouble. Spyware usually runs secretly on your device and monitors everything you do.
The kind of stolen data depends on the purpose of the malefactor. Usually, it’s information about your internet activity and browsing history. If your device is infected with this type of spyware, you will notice a lot of redirects and an increase in the number of ads. Also, the performance of your computer or mobile gadget will get worse.
But the most dangerous kind of spyware is the one that steals your passwords and credit card details. It is very hard to detect, and it acts quietly. So hackers get all your critical information while you’re not even aware that your device is infected. Such spyware might even not slow down the device, and it will work as if everything is fine.
You might notice something is wrong only when money disappears from your bank account, or your profiles on social media or other internet platforms get stolen. At this point it is too late – you have already fallen victim to an attack. Thus, it makes more sense to install anti-spyware on your device so that it doesn’t get infected rather than try to recover everything after the attack.
Best anti-spyware programs that are complex security suits
Spyware is the most widely-spread kind of malware. Therefore, pretty much all decent antiviruses perform well as anti-spyware tools. However, you can guarantee the perfect protection only if you use an antivirus that monitors your device in real-time mode and offers you a shield from all kinds of malware. A spyware removal tool is quite useless on its own.
To help you choose the best anti-spyware, we have reviewed the most trusted providers and created a handy list for you. So you can go through the descriptions and choose the option that fits your requirements and budget. We tried to stay as unbiased as possible and provide you with honest reviews that highlight all the pros and cons of each product.
This is one of the most well-known antivirus providers that remains rather popular due to reliable protection it offers. Avast constantly shows good results during lab tests which means that developers of this software are continuously working on the improvement of the database.
Along with real-time protection, Avast offers an extension for browsers that monitors your internet activity and flags websites that contain a potential threat. In the Premier version, you will also get a Webcam Shield that lets you control the number of apps that have access to the camera of your device. It is additional protection from spyware that works pretty well.
Avast shows excellent malware detection and spyware removal abilities. Its features are not limited to the protection of a device only. You can also get performance boost tools separately or as a part of the top tier Ultimate package.
- Avast Internet Security – $59.99/year
- Avast Premier – $69.99/year
- Avast Ultimate – $119.99/year
Bitdefender is one of the most reliable antiviruses. In fact, it always shows the best results during lab tests if compared to other products. Therefore, if you need flawless protection, you should consider this software. Bitdefender is more than a spyware removal tool. It also offers a VPN service, a password manager, and a firewall along with parental control in the paid version.
Bitdefender is available for all platforms so it will protect your PC or Mac along with mobile devices. The only downside is that interfaces of the apps for all the four platforms look differently. It means that you will have to get used the software if you install it on another device. And still, that’s not a big deal. Additionally, this provider has anti-theft features that will help you increase your chances to get your lost or stolen device back. And optimization tools come as a huge bonus.
- Antivirus Plus – $39.99/year
- Internet Security – $59.99/year
- Total Security – $89.99/year
- Antivirus for Mac – $59.99/year
- Family Pack – $119.99/year
It is a true legend among antiviruses. Lab tests show that it remaina reliable and high-quality software that will keep your devices safe. Having strong anti-spyware, ransomware and other kinds of malware protection features, Kaspersky holds top positions in antivirus ratings. An additional advantage of this provider is that buying the software you will get protection for three devices.
The only downside of Kaspersky is that it slows down the device a bit. The decrease of the performance is not really visible though – you might notice it only during scans. Talking about features, the software comes with a password manager, firewall, parental control, virtual keyboard, and anti-phishing tools.
Unlike most antiviruses, the free version of Kaspersky doesn’t have annoying ads. So it is convenient to use and will fit your needs if you need some basic protection.
- Kaspersky Anti-Virus – $29.99/year for one device. The price increases with the increase in the number of devices and years
- Kaspersky Internet Security – $39.99/year
- Kaspersky Total Security – $49.99/year
The prices are for 1 device and increase with the number of licenses.
This provider is relatively new, so no extensive lab tests have been conducted yet to prove its efficiency. At the same time, users are more than satisfied with this antivirus. If you want to know whether the software is really good, genuine testimonials from customers are the best source of information. So far clients didn’t face any issues with spyware, ransomware, and viruses while using ScanGuard. Such a high level of protection makes this provider one of the best on the market.
The number of features depends on the package you choose. The basic one will provide you with real-time protection, firewall, optimization tools, etc. Pro Antivirus package additionally offers Password Vault and defends three devices. And the most extended version adds to it a 24/7 support and protects five devices.
- Essential Antivirus – $24.95/year
- Pro Antivirus – $39.95/year
- Ultimate Antivirus – $59.95/year
TotalAv is another new player in the market that has not been tested by major independent labs as of yet. Still, this full-featured antivirus suit gets positive users’ reviews, so you may find it worth a closer look. TotalAv will protect you from spyware and other types of malware in real time without hindering the performance of your device. All the paid packages come with a firewall and optimization tools to boost the performance of your device.
TotalAv spyware protection covers Windows, Mac, and Android devices, and with top tiers packages, you can have 3-5 devices covered with one license. Password manager and smartphone optimizer tool are additional features that come with multi-device packages.
- Essential Antivirus – $19.95/year
- Antivirus Pro – $39.95/year
- Ultimate Antivirus – $59.95/year
This antivirus offers decent protection against spyware and other kinds of malware. It has a tool that monitors the reputation of websites you visit, and a browser extension will keep you away from malicious sites. Moreover, AVG will protect your email by flagging malicious content. However, AVG antivirus scored only 95% during lab tests, which is not the best result.
On the plus side, AVG antivirus offers a handful of scan options. Both quick and deep scans are available, and you can scan certain folders or external devices. Moreover, the software checks the performance of your device. If you want to have a scan later, you can schedule it. When you first install AVG, you should run the deep scan. It will take almost two hours, but it will find all the malware.
There is one feature that usually gets overlooked – the file shredder. It overwrites the data of the file making it impossible to recover after it is deleted.
- AVG Internet Security – $79.99/year
- AVG Ultimate – $99.99/year
This antivirus shows pretty good results during lab tests and will ensure decent protection of your device from spyware, ransomware, and other malware. We should mention, though, that some malware managed to sneak past Norton even when the program told that it stopped the virus. But these occasions are rare, and Norton’s top paid tiers come with 100% refund guarantee in case the software fails to properly protect your device.
Norton offers a password manager and flags malicious websites when you are on the Internet. This software doesn’t require many resources and doesn’t impact the performance of the device. So we can call Norton an overall good antivirus that will protect you from most online threats.
- Antivirus Plus – $39.99
- Standard – $49.99
- Deluxe – $59.99
- Antivirus with LifeLock Select – $99.99
This antivirus shows excellent results during tests. It blocks every single threat, so we would even call it the best anti-spyware software. It will monitor your internet connection, activity in the web and even social media to spot any possible threats. McAfee won’t let any malefactor do harm to your device or steal your data.
The downside is that this software visibly slows down the device. We had some major lags while McAfee was running – sometimes we couldn’t even move the cursor if we wanted to perform some actions that needed many resources. So we would say that this antivirus will do good for users that require a high level of protection and don’t perform any complicated actions using their devices. Alternatively, just run scans when you’re away from the computer.
McAfee Total Security is the only package available on the official website. The price depends on the number of devices and starts at $54.99/year
Avira will protect your device from malware and phishing both with scans and additional features. The software examines attached files in emails. However, it performs the scan after the email was opened, not upon its arrival. Also, Avira offers extensions for browsers that will show you malicious websites and keep you away from them. The database of the antivirus gets updated several times per day, so you can be sure you’re safe.
Additionally, this provider has a VPN service that will give you some more protection. Also, it has features like a password manager, shopping adviser, and safe search. Just like many other antiviruses, Avira provides the user with tools that allow boosting the performance of the device by cleaning trash. It can encrypt files as well, which is a huge bonus.
- Antivirus Pro – $44.99
- Internet Security Suite – $57.99
- Prime – $99.99
Are there Free Spyware Removal Tools?
All the antivirus suits we’ve listed above will not only protect you from spyware but would also keep other types of malware at bay. With more advanced packages you’ll get a number of useful extras such as password managers, optimization tools and VPN. And still, you do not necessarily need to get an antivirus suite to get rid of spyware. You may be overall happy with your current malware protection – you may have strong faith in Windows Defender or your third-party antivirus that missed some spyware, but does it job well in general, or you may still believe your Mac is invincible.
Let us assure you that your Windows and Mac devices definitely need some extra layers of protection, but still, if your only purpose is to get rid of spyware – here’s the list of dedicated standalone programs.
This tool will protect you from all kinds of threats – spyware, adware, ransomware and other kinds of malicious software. It detects malware and removes it quickly. The software is lightweight and easy to use. Unlike many antiviruses, it will not slow down your computer. Also, it will not get in conflict with your main antivirus – instead, it will act as an additional shield.
It is a perfect solution for your device if you want some more protection from spyware. It will run quietly on the background so that you might even forget about it. You can use it along with the antivirus or just on its own. The paid version will block malware in real-time mode, update database automatically and allow scheduled scans.
Emsisoft Emergency Kit (EEK)
This kit contains several programs that will scan your computer and remove detected malware. The best thing is that you don’t have to install this software. Therefore, it doesn’t need much space and resources. It will run on any computer and will not hinder the performance.
Emsisoft Emergency Kit is free for private use, but for commercial use, you will have to get a paid version. This software is a very convenient tool for system administrators that have to check third-party computers for malware quite often. Since it doesn’t require installation, you can just insert a flash drive and run the scan from it. The database gets frequent updates, so you can be sure this tool will find every single threat.
This software offers decent protection against spyware. Spybot Anti-Beacon won’t allow your data to be sent to third-parties. And Identity Monitor will understand that your data was stolen and help you solve this issue. If you need to protect your mobile device – Spybot Mobile Security is at your service.
Spybot offers a handful of solutions for every need the user might have. This provider has separate software for private and business clients as their needs differ a lot. The Corporate edition is highly customizable, so businesses can set up the configuration as they want. Also, there is a Technician’s edition that provides the system administrator with all tools they might need.
How you can get spyware
All devices and all operating systems are vulnerable to spyware. If you have Mac, iPhone or iPad, don’t trick yourself into thinking that you are safe. Even though Windows and Android are more susceptible to malware, MacOS and iOS are not protected from attacks by default as well. So you need to get antivirus or at least a dedicated anti-spyware tool to protect your device.
There are a lot of ways of getting spyware. But let’s go through the most widespread ones:
- Accepting any pop-up agreement without reading it;
- Downloading files from an unknown resource;
- Downloading email attachments from unknown senders;
- Getting content from torrent websites.
Also, you can get spyware when downloading bundles of free software or content. It usually comes in an archive, so when you extract files, they might infect your computer.
The spyware can be transferred to your device through various programs that claim to be useful. For example, some unknown browser that is claimed to be better than popular ones might contain spyware. And even if you delete the browser later, the malware will stay on your computer.
How to protect yourself from spyware
Naturally, getting a reliable antivirus is a must. But some extra caution won’t hurt, too. As we’ve already discussed how one can get spyware, you might have understood by now how to eliminate the possibility of getting spyware. It is really simple:
- Don’t open emails and especially attachments from unknown senders;
- Don’t download content and software from unknown sources;
- Hover with your cursor over links before clicking on them to see if the address doesn’t look suspicious;
- Stay away from sites with free adult content;
- Try to avoid sites that still don’t have an SSL certificate.
However, hackers realize that users become smarter and more cautious with their activity online. So malefactors keep coming up with new ways to sneak malware into your device. That’s why you should have a reliable antivirus.
New threats appear every day, and developers of antivirus software, in their turn, keep studying new malware samples and updating their databases. All this work has one purpose – to protect your sensitive information from theft and not to let malefactors sell your personal accounts to spammers or get access to your banking accounts.
Following the simple rules to prevent spyware from installing itself on your device is a great start. For maximum possible protection, antivirus or at least a dedicated spyware removal tool is vital. The sad truth is that when it comes to spyware everyone is a target. Hackers rarely aim at someone specific- mostly they just spread the malware around the web to infect as many devices as possible, and only a good antivirus can keep you safe.