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What are Computer Parasites?

Parasites, so called because of the strong biological analogy, is a shorthand term for unsolicited commercial software. It is a program that gets installed on your computer which you never asked for and which does something you probably don't want it to, for someone else's profit.

The parasite problem has grown enormously recently, and many millions of computers are affected. Unsolicited commercial software can typically:

How do they get here?

There are three major ways unsolicited commercial software can make its way on to your machine:

How can I get rid of them?

The sad fact is that if you browse the internet, it is almost impossible to stop parasites arriving. The only hope you have is to attack them once they've arrived.

Technically, most unsolicited commercial software isn't viral: it doesnt spread from computer to computer, it just installs and runs on one system. That doesnt mean its not harmful but it does mean that anti-virus software does not attempt to detect it.

Some anti-virus programs do detect some parasites but not nearly all and not all versions of them. Parasites that install using Internet Explorer security holes are more likely to be targeted by the anti-virus software vendors but the selection of targets seems for the most part to be pretty arbitrary. For this reason there are now a number of anti-parasite packages around that work as a complement to anti-virus software

Several programs exist which can be downloaded for free and help to identify and remove parasites, although they all require a solid understanding of the issues involved in order to avoid removing useful system components! A good search engine such as Google will be in heavy use as you find out which entries are the parasites.