Using Startup Managers to Prevent Spyware

Dennis Faas's picture

Malware programmers frequently strap their rogue software (Spyware) into key sections of the Windows boot process. By doing so, the writers ensure they can keep their software running in hopes of maintaining control of your system.

An excellent way to prevent these types of attacks from bypassing your security layers is to install a startup manager. Startup managers monitor specific sections of your system for anything newly installed, or that might pose as something out of the ordinary. When something tries to insert itself into your system, an alert will be triggered to ask if you want to either approve or deny the program from being associated with the Windows boot process.

By carefully selecting which programs you want to boot with Windows, you can dramatically improve your startup time. Many of programs that are "automatically associated" with your startup can be removed without interrupting the functionality of the program itself. Furthermore, most programs that are opted out of the startup can also be run from the Start menu (and only when the user chooses to do so).

Many startup managers will try to give you as much information as possible on the items listed on your system. They will give you the company name, its place in the registry and in some cases provide a link to the vendor. In most cases you can find other options that will assist you in controlling the programs on your OS.

Two of my favorite startup managers are WinPatrol and Mike Lin's Startup Monitor. Both offer excellent easy to use interfaces along with quick setup and as well are freeware.

For those who prefer a more advanced type of tool, I also recommend Autoruns (created by renowned security experts, and Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell). This tool provides a bevy of options almost dizzying even for advanced users.

Next time out, I'll address one of the latest threats to users: Anti-Spyware tools that actually install Spyware.

Surf Safe, and Surf Secure!

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