Category Archives: Security

Have You Let Your Anti-Spyware Guard Down?

The reason I ask is because last week I had my poor little Windows XP laptop running well over 24 hours doing scans, eradicating Spyware, extracting worms, burning Trojan horses and pouring salt on slugs.  It was an excruciating time for everyone involved and what makes it worse is its not an uncommon occurrence around here.

I do have a real time Anti-Virus guard set up with ‘Shaw Secure’ which is re-branded ‘F-Secure Anti-Virus’.  It does provide protection to some degree but the cold hard fact, at least from what I’ve experienced, is one is never enough when it comes to protection from Malware.

At one point there was a strict difference between Anti-Virus and  Anti-Malware or Anti-Spyware applications.  That strict line continues to blur as some companies are stepping over said line and attempting to offer a ‘complete package’.   In this article I am focusing on applications that are known to be good for Malware, which includes trojans, back doors, loggers, et al and not touching on the Anti-Virus type.

As I mentioned, for Malware one application is never enough.  I strongly suggest (and should note the timeless adage: Do as I say, not as I do) running a real time shield for Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware.  The real time shield sits in memory and watches for nasty things playing around with your system.  Although they will take up system resources a good application can keep the overhead fairly low.  One thing to remember is the real time shield is different than real time scanning.  You don’t want to have multiple programs running real time scanning which is much more system intensive than the shield.  Also, take note that not all Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware apps will ‘play’ well together.  I have never had a problem with the programs I’ve used but I’ve stayed away from the well know, very large and popular Anti-Virus and security packages that are very good at taking over your system.

Now, before this turns into something formal and informative I want to get to another point of why I’m writing this – besides of course letting everyone know how dumb I am for not protecting my helpless little laptop.   There are a lot of quality Anti-Spyware applications out ‘there’ but there are also some less reputable ones.  Many people have been fooled by what looked to be a professional application.  There are many ways the distributors of these applications pedal their wares including various advertisements, sites made to look like independent reviews, hijacking your system and more.  Once they have you install the application some of them produce false reports to make it seem like it’s found a load of Malware.  Considering this, I wanted to provide another resource and give a short list of Anti-Spyware apps that I have used and know to be on the up and up. Remember, these have been used and proven to fix an infected system. Hopefully you’re not like me and you can use one of these for prevention as well.

Note: A summary list will follow this text.

A couple of the ‘big boys’ who have been around and proven to get the job done are: Spybot – Search & Destroy (not to be confused with a product called Search and Destroy) and Lavasoft Ad-Aware.  Spybot –  S&D is donation-ware, it is completely free to use which makes it an easy one to recommend.  Lavasoft Ad-Aware has free and paid versions.  Both Adaware and Spybot have worked well for me without causing any hassles or troubles.  Ad-Aware has reportedly fallen a bit behind in the times but I’ve been more than happy with what its done for me.

For my current favorite I will have to re-iterate this is truly a serious and professional application.  When I first found out about it on a credible Anti-Spyware site, Security I still had trouble believing it.  With some trepidation I tried it out and have loved it ever since.  SUPERAntiSpyware.  Yes, the name screams all sorts of warnings but I’ve found it to be one of the easiest to use, it runs fast, hunts and kills Malware very well. For me, one of the most important aspects of SUPERAntiSpyware is that it doesn’t get in my way. It’s a nice, clean, no-nonsense application.

A couple other very good Anti-Spyware applications are PC Tools Spyware Doctor and Webroot Spy Sweeper. You can download them to scan your system but you’ll need to make a purchase to do any removals. Even if you only stick to free applications it doesn’t hurt to try other scans to see where you stand which is usually on shaky ground when it comes to Malware. As with the previous titles I mentioned these are both highly regarded and award winning Anti-Spyware applications.

I have tried other popular Anti-Spyware applications but have opted not to include applications which were not pleasant to use or productive. Finally, I would like to note where applicable, I have signed up as an affiliate for the applications listed and recommended. This was done as an afterthought when the article was mostly written and had no bearing on what was chosen to make the list. The benefit for you is, if you plan to buy, I was able to find a discount coupon for PC Tools Spyware Doctor and I can now offer a deal on SUPERAntiSpyware Professional with lifetime updates (send me a message if you’re interested). I will add any coupons or deals as I come across them.

The List:

Application Link Comment
Lavasoft Ad-Aware Lavasoft Ad-Aware Anniversary Edition Time tested and proven, free version available.  Purchase for $26.95 with 1 year subscription.
Spybot – Search & Destory Spybot – S&D Old faithful and free!  What are you waiting for?
PC Tools Spyware Doctor Spyware Doctor Strong detection and removal, requires a purchase to remove found infections.  $39.95 purchase with 1 year subscription can be used on up to 3 computers.  10% off coupon expires 04/15/09
SUPERAntiSpyware SUPERAntiSpyware Product Page Crazy name, fast, easy to use, doesn’t get in the way, very good detection and removal, free version available.  My #1.  $29.95 purchase with 1 year subscription.  Only an additional $9.95 for lifetime subscription (see main article text if you’re looking for a deal).
Webroot Spy Sweeper Spy Sweeper Very strong detection and removal, requires a purchase to remove found infections.  My #2.  Purchase with 1 year subscription is currently $29.95.