Surveillance and spying have been a rising trend around the world. Do you think you have never been spied on? Think again. The Government, security agencies, ISP, and cybercriminals keep spying without you knowing.
Spying is a significant concern for internet users, but what should you do about it? Privacy is your right; you should make sure that no one infiltrates your privacy.
Spywares are dangerous, malicious applications running secretly on your PC and keep track of your daily moves on the internet. They record what you do, see what you see, save your details, and transmit them to the spyware server.
Did you know that spyware can steal your banking details? Also, spyware can even record all your keyboard strokes. The most terrible aspect is that spyware is extremely difficult to detect.
You may not realize for years that someone is spying on your cell phone or another device. In most instances, you would never know. The best you can do for yourself is to look out for an efficient spyware removal tool and install it on your device.
Thankfully, many security firms have come to the scene with their cutting-edge anti-spyware tools to detect and eliminate spyware on your devices. Some of these tools are free, while others are premium applications with free accounts and trials.
But not all applications work as they claim. That is why we decided to research on spyware removal tools thoroughly and test all providers that are available today for you.
Based on our extensive dive, we picked the twenty-three best spyware removal tools on the internet. But before we get to the list, let’s cover some essential basics you might be interested to know.
Quick list: Top 5 spyware removal tools
Short on time right now? Here are the top 5 spyware removal programs that can track down and eliminate any spyware on your device. (These all are free for life.)
- Panda Free Antivirus (Panda Dome Free) — Comes with a state of the art antivirus algorithm for malware removal. It does not have any sign-up or download requirements.
- Comodo Free Anti-Malware (BOClean) — It is a useful free malware removal tool with additional features such as secure shopping.
- Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit — Designed to eliminate a range of spyware on user devices quickly.
- Norton Power Eraser — Highly admired for its capability to track down stubborn and hidden malware.
- AVG Free Antivirus — It is a multipurpose spyware removal tool that not only eliminates spyware but also optimizes your system for better performance.
What is spyware?
Spyware is a broad category of system malware that secretly runs on user devices and tracks their activities. It carries out the operation by secretly observing what you do; the malicious program sees what you see and send all its observations to the snooper. The tracker gets your information and can use it for a range of purposes.
Snoopers sell some of the information and use some to impersonate you. Also, they can use some of your information to hack your account and so on. Information such as your personal login details, credit card numbers can all facilitate fraud and identity theft.
Spyware comes in diverse forms, and any tool used in monitoring and stealing data is spyware. In essence, any software that gathers information from a user without the consent of the user is spyware. It doesn’t matter if it’s from your ISP, a government agency such as the NSA PRISM program, a security firm, or a marketing company.
Spywares has been the most popular means of stealing people’s information and would always be used against us. We see spyware in ad networks, banking applications, and Trojans. Also, even a jealous spouse or desperate employer can deploy it on your system.
Many companies are crossing their ethical boundaries and going as far as installing keystroke loggers. They do this as part of their insider threat program. And today, it has become an enormous problem that affects many people worldwide.
The use of spyware has drastically increased in the last couple of years, and it seems a lot of organizations are on a race to develop spyware to undo people. Malwarebytes researched security issues, and it released a report that spyware usage on consumers increased by 27 percent between 2017 and 2018.
In comparison, spyware for business surveillance increased by a massive 142 percent. This trend keeps on rising in 2020 without showing any signs of slowing down.
Cybercriminals are interested in stealing information from both consumers and organizations. Did you know that if a criminal has your data, they can create additional and more complex spyware for monetization? They could even hold you to ransom and make you pay heavily.
Types of spyware
Spyware comes in many forms which include the following:
This form of spyware comes through ads. Criminals deploy ads on the website you visit with content that may interest you.
When you click on the ad, the spyware would install on your system and carry out its malicious task. Adware not only steals your information, but it can also slow down your system performance, making things annoying for you.
Most people have heard about cookies but do not understand the level of damage they can carry out. Tracking cookies are tough to eliminate, especially Zombie cookies. They get installed on your browser secretly and note your every move, your keystrokes, and your log-in details.
Zombie cookies are highly resistant and can resurface on your device even after you delete them. You need a state-of-the-art spyware removal tool to eliminate Zombie cookies from your device.
It is highly versatile spyware that looks for sensitive information once they gain access to your device. Trojans steal your bank information, your identity, and other valuable information. Afterward, they send your information to the criminal who can use it for identity theft, make fraudulent online purchases, and directly steal funds from your account.
Sometimes they can use your information to control your device if they successfully install a backdoor for remote access. RAT is an acronym for Remote access Trojan, and it has posed a lot of security challenges for users all around the world.
This is spyware that captures every key you press on your keyboard. It also captures the keystrokes you use while logging into your email, social media pages, bank account, etc.
This spyware is mostly deployed on mobile devices to track the owner. Both organizations and individuals deploy this tool for tracking.
Millions of stalkerware are running on users’ devices all around the world. For example, it was discovered that Mexican Drug Kingpin installed Stalkerware on the devices of his wife’s to monitor their activities.
He also installed it on the devices of other female crime partners to enable him to read their messages, listen to their voice calls, video calls, and so on. He admitted it all during his trial.
These types of malicious spyware programs are developed to take advantage of eCommerce sites. Some eCommerce websites award credits to any webpage that sends good traffic to their products and services. As the name suggests, stealware intercepts a user’s traffic and sends it to the eCommerce site to take credit.
Such programs take a record of everything you do on your system. They take note of your emails, chats, video calls, websites you visit, the program that runs on your device, your phone calls, etc. It sends all this information to the cybercriminal to snoop.
They also monitor your device’s vulnerabilities and identify all loopholes to enable the criminal to deploy further intrusive applications.
How does spyware work?
Spywares are distributed to devices in multiple ways, and their mode of operation also differs.
One of the easiest ways it gets into users’ devices is by making them click on a link that would redirect the user to a malicious site. The link can be embedded in text messages, emails, pop-up windows, or ads.
Poisoned links often appear on torrent sites, even those believed to be safe, such as Pirate Bay alternatives. Sometimes malicious links would start installing spyware on your device once you click on it.
Sometimes a user does not necessarily have to click on a poisoned link to get infected. A user can get infected through ads displayed on the web browser, even on legitimate websites.
Also, there are malicious advertising networks known as Malvertising. They carry out cyber-attacks through advertisement, and in some cases, spyware can get you infected just by landing on a website.
This type of drive-by infection is known as a Watering Hole attack. They are named so because of their aggressive hunting techniques. Internet predators use it to wait for their prey around a watering hole before carrying out a vicious attack on them.
How it infects a user
Opening infected file
This is one of the leading means through which internet users get infected. Infected files are typically attached to emails, Google downloads, etc. The criminals can also target legitimate organizations and attach an infected file so that unaware users would download it. They also target mails from your bank, post office, Hospitals, schools, and other legitimate organizations.
Downloading applications from unofficial sources
Cybercriminals would most often entice users to download infected applications on the internet. Criminals may develop an app and tout it as a useful program but embed some codes to carry out spyware attacks on any device that installs it. In some cases, the spyware would remain on your system even after you delete the application.
Mobile app stores
Today, many spyware applications on app stores can do real damage to your privacy. Any app store can have such applications without them knowing, which is why Google has its Play Protect.
Both Apple and Google have done tremendous jobs in catching and deleting malicious applications in their respective stores. Both tech giants are in a continuous fight with malicious apps. For example, in July 2020, Google deleted eleven apps from Play Store, which were infected with Joker malware.
You should be concerned about installing applications outside of Apple and Google app store because there are a lot of malicious applications on the internet.
Malicious programs on original apps
There are instances when a malicious application can appear on legitimate/original applications. In some cases, they masquerade as the real application. Therefore, users must exercise caution before installing any app.
Social media engineering
This is one of the most effective ways of spreading malware applications on the internet. Here imposters trick users with original-looking links and documents through social media to get their systems infected with malware.
Some of the malware would exploit your browser vulnerabilities, and it has been a significant way of infiltrating users. Watering hole attacks were a meaningful way of spreading malware. But recently, the use of email, social media, and compromised documents have taken over.
A quick guide on how to prevent spyware
You can avert many spyware infections and attacks with just a little more caution. Unfortunately, most users on the internet are negligent and do not know about spyware or the dangers it can pose to privacy.
The infection mainly occurs when you surf one site after the other without the necessary precautions. People click random links, download random documents, open attachments, and generally practice poor cybersecurity.
If you think you’ve got spyware on your device, the spyware removal tools listed as little below in this article will help get rid of it. But if you do not see anything suspicious yet, here’s how you can protect your device from spyware programs:
Download files and applications only from trusted sites and official app stores
For this, you should also install a good and trusted antivirus application because some of the antivirus applications can also be spyware. A quality antivirus application such as Bitdefender Antivirus Plus and Norton Plus would flag infected downloads, eliminate threats from your device, and keep you protected.
Avoid jailbreaking an iPhone and rooting an android device
These are critical mediums through which you can not only get your device infected in no time, but also throw it into a ring of severe mobile security issues.
For companies, managers should also put security policies in place in their respective organizations. They should also encourage using a Mobile Device Management application, which would limit downloads or require application approval before download.
Always ensure your devices are locked with codes
It is no brainier. This is because someone can access your device and install spyware on it.
Features to look out for in a spyware removal tool
Here are the features to look out for in spyware, whether free or premium.
- Effective spyware scanner should carry out automatic and on-demand daily, weekly, and monthly scans.
- Helps screens for spyware before it is downloaded on the device.
- Should be able to lock a device and wipe out the contents.
- Provide adequate protection against SMS spammers.
- An antispyware program that can perform real-time security updates.
- Seamlessly blocks unsafe emails, downloads, links, and attachments.
23 best free spyware removals programs
As stated before, there are various categories of spyware. Any of them can be terrible news for users. They all pose equivalent threats and are generally intrusive. However, some spyware can be extremely difficult to detect and remove, so you may need a specialized anti-spyware removal application to eliminate them.
There is a countless number of spyware removal tools on the internet. Some of them are multipurpose, while others target a specific class of spyware and would not complete the job. Multipurpose spyware removal tools provide holistic solutions for removing spyware.
The good news is that we have carried out a deep dive and researched the best anti-spyware removal tools for you. Here are the top 23 best spyware removal tools:
1. Panda free antivirus (Panda dome free)
Panda is among the top antivirus applications that can effectively tackle spyware. It has good brand recognition and is known for its brutal approach to eliminating spyware.
It is rated excellently among software security firms, and you can count on it to ensure your privacy. For several years Panda has received a perfect 100 rating among security firm ratings, which indicates its effective operation mechanism.
Panda supports a range of operating systems such as Android, Windows XP, and Windows 10. It is free without any hidden cost, and you can use it for life. Furthermore, Panda would not ask for any signup and does not have download requirements. Account creation is optional, so you can decline if you want.
Here are some advantages of Panda free antivirus:
- A comprehensive solution for eliminating spyware for free
- Real-time device monitoring
- Scan scheduling
- It comes with a fully-featured VPN
- Anti-theft system for Android devices
2. AVG free antivirus
You should consider AVG if privacy is your concern, and you want to eliminate spyware from your device. It’s one of the most well-known and oldest tools to keep you free from spyware.
AVG comes with a lot of features and functionality that can help tackle spyware intrusion on your system. Furthermore, it can eliminate Adware, malware, and other types of malicious programs.
No signup or download is needed, it comes free of cost without hidden charges, and it supports a range of operating systems including MAC and Windows. It carries out boot time scams, real-time device monitoring, and scheduled scans.
3. Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit
This free spyware removal application is vicious when it comes to eliminating spyware and malware from your device. It eliminates spyware and leaves no trace of them on your system.
The application is free for life. It requires no sing up and supports a range of operating systems. Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit takes a deep dive into your operating system in order to handle a vital part of the OS against spyware activities.
Because it goes deep to scan your OS, it usually takes a longer time to complete the scan. Lastly, it is essential to know that the application is updated regularly, so it stays alert for new virus definitions that keep evolving.
4. Adware antivirus
Adware antivirus application is a reliable option for eliminating spyware. It has an antivirus scanner, a virus removal tool, and offers download protection and real-time monitoring.
It supports Windows 7 / 10, has no signup and download requirements, and is free of charge without hidden cost. In Adware, you can disable real-time protection, which can help against software conflict in some situations. That means you can run Adware antivirus and other virus protection tools on your device without any dispute should you need.
5. Comodo free anti-malware BOClean
Comodo is a simple antivirus program that comes with a unique user interface and provides maximum device protection. It has real-time protection and is well-rated by independent software security firms around the world.
It has no download/signup requirements, is free of charge with no hidden cost, and supports Windows XP and 7. Aside from anti-spyware protection, BOClean also provides a DNS system and secure online shopping for users. It has advanced features, but thankfully the user interface is straightforward to navigate.
6. Spybot Search and Destroy
As the name suggests, the mission of this organization is to search and destroy spyware applications with blazing speed and efficiency. It has a vast library of malware and antivirus tools. Search and Destroy has several paid versions; however, the free version is still versatile and a handy anti-spyware tool.
It provides solutions against spyware, malware, intrusive cookies, ad blocking, removal of unwanted applications, starts up management, and rootkit scanner for your device. Spybot supports Windows 7 and 10 and requires no account creation for downloads (that is optional).
As the name implies, this tool is an extremely durable and efficient spyware removal tool. It removes a range of unwanted and intrusive applications on your device. FreeFixer optimizes your system and fixes issues. It eliminates viruses, Trojans, spyware, and other computer-related bugs.
It supports the Windows operating system and requires no account creation for download and installation.
FreeFix carries out scheduled system scans and focuses on infected areas to remove malicious programs. FreeFix also comes with file protection, which is very handy against ransomware.
However, it does not quarantine infected files before deleting them, which means you can lose some of your files. Quarantine before deleting is only available in the paid version of FreeFix. The application is reputable and has received wide acclamation from independent software testing and security agencies.
8. Norton Power Eraser
Norton Power Eraser comes free for life and targets spyware. It is a specialized system, unlike some other multipurpose antivirus tools. It tackles malware stealing your information, eliminates crimeware, intrusive / tracking cookies, Adware, Trojans, etc.
It suppers the Windows operating system, and is limited to scanning and removing spyware. As a result of its specialization, it is highly effective and quick. Furthermore, Norton Power Eraser creates a system restore for your device and comes with tools to backtrack the last changes on your device.
9. Malwarebytes Adwcleaner
Adwcleaner is one of the best software security firms around the world. It comes with a range of tools that can tackle various types of spyware on your device. It is a specialized antivirus application that efficiently tracks and eliminates malware / malicious applications on your system.
Adwcleaner supports the Windows operating system, requires no account creation for installs and downloads, and can be used free for life. Furthermore, the interface is straightforward to navigate, and it quarantines files before deleting them. It operates with speed because it’s a specialized application.
As the name implies, this application is super useful in detecting and eliminating spyware on your device. It is highly specialized in spyware, Trojans, ransomware, rootkits, hijackers, keyloggers, etc. The spyware application has received a lot of recommendations from software security organizations around the world.
SUPERAntiSpyware used to be completely free software, but that changed recently. The program now offers a 14-day free trial and then if you wish to keep using it, you will need to pay $39.95 +tax for its Pro version (for 1 PC).
It supports Windows 8 and 10. Some of the key extended functionalities of SUPERAntiSpyware include:
- Automatic updates
- Real-time protection
- Scan scheduling, etc
11. Avira Antivirus Pro
Avira has existed for donkeys years and is very efficient in eliminating spyware and viruses. It works in the background and does not slow down your pc as some other virus applications do.
It carries out its function in a holistic approach and can detect more than 350,000 threats (keeps updating). On top of spyware removal, it optimizes your device, carries out system cleanups, useful for keylogger detection, protects your calls, and secures your emails.
12. Bitdefender Total Security
Bitdefender is a secure and robust cloud-based antivirus application that keeps your devices safe from spyware and malware. It ensures your online privacy and security and also provides an anti-theft mechanism for Android devices.
Furthermore, it checks if your emails have been compromised, optimizes your battery life, and reacts instantly to threats. Moreover, you would get 24/7 security updates alongside a secure banking system. It also offers an in-built VPN system for users.
13. ESET Security
Eset Security is a reliable spyware detection and removal tool that helps protect all your devices. It provides real-life threat detection and scanning.
ESET Security is a fast spyware removal tool. Alongside your PC, it keeps your mobile devices safe whenever you go. This tool is a premium option with various products on offer, but you can try the Eset Security Home version free for 30-days. It provides activity logs, security reports, and can wipe your device in the event of theft.
McAfee is a security giant known worldwide for its practical approach to eliminating spyware, malware, and virus applications. It secures your PC against phishing attacks, ransom wares, and other malicious applications.
Furthermore, it provides a firewall for your device, blocks hackers from intrusion, and perfectly secures your home network. It also enables you to manage your passwords through its encryption mechanism securely.
Like Eset Security, it is a paid program with a free trial on offer.
15. Trend Micro HouseCall
TrendMicro is a software company dedicated to protecting your computer and providing a safeguard for your online activities. It protects you against fake financial apps, shopping apps, banking apps, Trojans, and ransomware.
It effectively detects dangerous URLs and carries out automatic blacklisting of hazardous websites. Furthermore, Trend Micro provides a secure cloud backup mechanism, protects against keyloggers, and perfectly secures your privacy.
One impressive thing that we noticed on the TrendMicro website during our research and tests is its free online security scan. It allows you to detect and fix spyware, worms, and viruses for free online.
16. 360 Total Security
Are you looking for a tool that provides a holistic approach to device cleaning? Give 360 Total Security a chance. It can clean your device and keep you safe against spyware and hackers.
It offers real-time protection against threats, intrusions, and other issues that can slow down your PC. The program is cloud-based, secures your online shopping activities, eliminates junk, checks for WiFi security, and optimizes your system performance.
F-Secure is a cyber-security organization with a mandate to provide maximum security against threats and intrusions.
The application carries out quick scans on your device, provides automatic updates, and safety against infected URLs as well as attachments. It carries out its operations without slowing down your PC and offers customers support.
Many businesses who want to keep themselves safe against ransomware opt for F-Secure. It works well for spyware removal, too.
18. Trend Micro Apex One
Trend Micro is among the best applications that can keep your device secured on the internet. It protects your shopping activities, banking transactions, protects your loin, and provides measures against ransomware.
Furthermore, it detects dangerous URLs and blacklists such a website, thereby ensuring your digital safety. Lastly, it has a cloud storage system where you can securely upload your documents for storage.
It provides an effective spyware removal on PC as well as Android. Trend Micro Apex One works across various platforms and protects your system without slowing it down.
Trend Micro Apex One is indeed an apex predator for detecting and deleting spyware, ransomware, zombie cookies, and other computer-related threats.
TotalAV is a dynamic antivirus application that can block out viruses, spyware, ransom wares, and other intrusive applications. It securely protects your identity, monitors data breaches, and optimizes your system.
The program carries automatic system checkups, provides a robust VPN system, protects your network, and works on PC and mobile devices.
20. Emsisoft Emergency Kit (EEK)
You do not need to install this tool to carry out a system scan. EEK systematically cleans up your system, portable devices, hard drives, and so on without installation.
Furthermore, it does not slow down your PC, comes with easy to use user interface, and provides a secure cloud solution for data backups.
21. Avast Free Antivirus
Avast is as old as time, and its efficiency is next to none. It can be installed on PC and smartphone and carries out malware detection in real-time.
It blocks out malicious URLs, intrusive applications and detects dangerous applications before the installation. You should opt for Avast if you are cost-conscious and looking for a free antivirus application for optimum security.
AdGuard is free for life and is among the most straightforward to use anti-spyware tools available today. It gives a notification when you try to open a malicious website.
The program carries out its operations without slowing down your PC, and it protects your device against spyware, tracking cookies, malware, and other types of threats. Furthermore, it ensures you browse the internet faster and blocks intrusive apps.
As it is clear by now, digital tracking has become a growing trend and a major privacy issue around the world. Criminals keep finding a variety of ways to infiltrate your device with a range of spyware tools. Spywares are connected to ads, pop-ups, dangerous links, applications, infected documents, and a whole lot more.
Users must be conscious of their privacy and deploy antivirus and anti-spyware tools on their systems to overcome the challenges posed by spyware. There are free and premium software solutions that can help keep your privacy and ensure you are not infiltrated.
It is not enough to deploy an antivirus, and you must install a reputable antivirus program on your system. In the end, it all comes down to some common sense.
Be careful about links, be cautious about the application from untrusted sources, and be watchful about attachments before downloading any. However, again, even if you are mindful of all this, Spywares can still find a way to get into your system without a reputable antivirus application on your device.
Spyware is a malicious program that steals users’ information without their consent. They operate on mobile devices, PC, servers, storage devices, and computer networks.
Antispyware is a dedicated application that specifically tackles spyware. While antivirus is a broad-spectrum software program that works to minimize the effects of viruses and malware applications on user devices.
Anti-spyware applications detect spyware and stop them before you install them. Also, they eliminate already existing spyware on devices. They would run a typical scan of your device, including your operating system, and take out malicious applications. A quality spyware removal program has an extensive database of spyware and matches records on your device with that of its database to delete threats.
i) Be careful of attachments and suspicious links. ii) Carry out regular system updates. iii) Enable your device firewall. iv) Opt for an anti-spyware program with a VPN. v) Always lock your device with a passcode.