With spyware becoming a larger threat, especially to dialup users, we've decided to give out some general guidelines for removing spyware and preventing its installation.

Spyware ranges from mildly annoying popup generators to dialers that call foreign countries, adding huge charges to your phone bill, to spam bots that send out a large percentage of the spam sent from the US.

Here are the tools that I use to eradicate spyware:
Spybot Search & Destroy
Make sure to update them before you run the scan, so that you catch as much as possible.
For non-commerical use, I use both of these at the same time, because they catch different programs. Ad-Aware has a more restrictive license, so I don't use it within the department.
Don't download software that claims to be spyware removal software, unless you confirm with a geek that it is, in fact, spyware removal software. Many nasty programs purport to be spyware removal software.

In addition, I recommend moving away from MS internet explorer, in favour of Mozilla. Mozilla is much less likely to install programs without telling you. It also has integrated popup-blocking and tabbed browsing.

If you still want to use IE for some things, I suggest that you install the Google toolbar. It blocks popups, which can be the source of spyware infestations.

In addition to these tools, make sure that the computer gets regular MS patches and updates. Some problems can be prevented by having the latest security patches. On windows 2000, xp, etc, there is an automatic updater, whose settings are in the control panel.

A fully up-to-date virus scanner is also a great way to prevent the accumulation of malware. I set the department scanners to update themselves and scan the computer every day at 04.00.

On some systems you have to disable the "scan floppy disk" feature in McAfee, otherwise the system will hang up at system shut down.

One of the best ways to stop spyware infestations is te be careful about what you download and where you go on the internet. Many programs that claim to be free actually install other programs on your computer without asking permission. Notable examples are Gator/Claria, weatherbug, and webshots.