Determining the proper Microsoft malware removal tool

Question: Could you give me a thorough description of the differences between antivirus software and antispyware/anti-malware software? How do I know if the type of malware that is infecting my computer is a virus or spyware/malware and what type of malware removal tool should I use?
- Posed by a SearchWindowsSecurity.com reader

Windows security threats expert Kevin Beaver offers this response:

Malware removal and prevention
Malware prevention and detection webcast series

Run third-party malware detection tools in Windows

Generally speaking, antivirus software can search for and protect against viruses, worms and Trojans. Antispyware is usually a separate piece of software that searches for and protects against pesky pop-ups that install spyware, potentially dangerous cookies, Windows registry entries, etc. Both types of Windows malware removal tools are needed to adequately protect a Windows system and you'll need to install and run both to search for pests that may be causing you problems.

Selecting the proper antivirus software

Now that you know the difference between the different types of malware removal and protection tools, get help choosing the best antivirus program for your network. Taken from a live thread in the ITKnowledge Exchange forum, this discussion will give you a look into your peers' favorite antivirus programs.

Next generation spyware

Once considered simply an annoyance, the spyware attack vector is increasingly being used with more malicious intent. The distinction between adware and spyware was primarily a difference between whether a vendor was up front with disclosing its monitoring activity, or if the vendor secretly "spied" on the user without any notification or authorization. The worst effect of such spyware was typically unwanted pop-up advertising based on the monitoring that the spyware had carried out. Read more about the evolution of spyware in this tip from Tony Bradley.

About the author: Kevin Beaver is an independent information security consultant, speaker and expert witness with Atlanta-based Principle Logic LLC. He has nearly two decades of experience in IT and specializes in performing information security assessments regarding compliance and risk management. Kevin has authored/co-authored six books on information security including Hacking For Dummies and Hacking Wireless Networks For Dummies (Wiley) as well as The Practical Guide to HIPAA Privacy and Security Compliance (Auerbach). He's also the creator of the Security On Wheels information security audio programs providing security learning for IT professionals on the go. Kevin can be reached at kbeaver@principlelogic.com.

This was first published in October 2007

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