I use MS Antispy and AVG without a firewall+a modicum of common sense and have had no problems at all in 4 years. I see 3/4 computers a week and use MS Antispy on each and it always finds the problems and I NEVER have to resort to HJT logs. Make of this what you will. You do not need to have paranoid level of 'defences' Get a decent free AV (Avast, AVG), a decent firewall if you think that you need one (Sygate), MS Antispy and one other such as Spybot or Adaware. Combined with a little common sense that takes 15 minutes to go through and you will be well protected.
This is what most spyware forums neglect to mention as it tends to burst their air of clannishness......1) Keep your AV and anti-spy programmes up to date on a daily basis or everytime you go on the net.
2) lay off the sites that display people who have had all their clothes stolen. They are generally not illegal and we live in a 'free' country, so remember that you must not click any 'yes' buttons and never agree to install any programmes, enter yes to join a 'survey' or toolbar buttons. View and never click is the golden rule. The huge amount of Pr0n addresses that I see in the history files leads me to believe that these sites are a lot more popular than is talked about in polite society and confirms the reports that they form 80% of all net traffic ;-))))
3) Children.....they are usually the #1 culprits. I can usually guarantee that any household with teenagers will have some sort of infection even with any firewall known to mankind. Children are targeted because they usually do not know the problems that downloading toolbar helpers and activeX programmes can cause. They must not download any free programmes no matter how enticing.
4) Spend half an hour reading about spyware etc., it is not rocket science and they all work on the basis that you will have given them permission to run. This will probably have been given unwittingly so you need to be aware of clicking on any programmes or dialogue boxes.
5) Get a good AV, MS Antispy and Adaware as a back up. Use a LITTLE common sense and you will never have a serious problem.
6) Do not share files. A shared folder on a computer is NOT safe. When you download a file you are giving permission for that file so a firewall or AV will let it through and they could easily miss a virus or Trojan. Lay off sharing on Messenger; this is probably the unsafest sort of file sharing and the root cause of problems on teenager's computers. If you get sent an attachment on an email be cautious about opening it especially if it is from someone who you do not know.
click here for the full monty. I tend to disregard lab tests as most are lame or not connected to Planet Earth.