Anti Spyware Software
I spend a lot of time on the Internet, both personally and professionally. I say I’m on the net easily 10 hours a day every day (if not more). In all that time, I run into a lot of things. One of the things that has become more and more of an issue in the last few years is Spyware. If you don’t know about Spyware, you better get educated about it, go check out this article to learn what it’s about (or this one. Given I spend so much time online, I’ve developed a few pretty good habits about browsing and installation of software, which keeps me protected from most of these problems. However, I’m no fool, problems can still occur (and they do).
To this, I use a few pieces of free software to help combat the Spyware threat. The first one, and the one I’ve been using the longest is called Ad-Aware. Ad-Aware does have pay options, but is free for personal use. It’s signatures are updated very frequently, which is another issue – it’s good to use these programs, but if you don’t stay with the signature/detection updates and scan all the time, you might as well not be using them. For the longest time I used only Ad-Aware, and I thought I was fine.
But then I had been hearing a lot about the program Spybot Search & Destroy. I’d known about it for awhile, but always figured I’d do fine with just Ad-Aware. But I decided to try Spybot. Spybot found a bunch of other things that Ad-Aware did not. Thought I was clean with Ad-Aware alone, I was not. So I started using Spybot in conjunction with Ad-Aware. They’re both free, so yeah, I’ll do that.
Also in the last few months I’ve switched to Mozilla Firefox for my main browser from Internet Explorer. The problem there is that Ad-Aware and Spybot would search for cookie based spyware threats in Internet Explorer cookies and not Mozilla based browsers. The reason is that IE has each cookie for each domain in it’s own physical file on your hard drive. Mozilla puts all the cookies for everywhere into a single cookie file, so you couldn’t just delete the cookie file like it did with IE, or all your cookies would go, which is bad (as most cookies are fine). However, the latest beta of Spybot will now search for and remove Mozilla based spyware cookies. And there was much rejoicing!
Finally, the reason I wrote this blog entry.. This past week, Microsoft released the first beta of their own entry into the Spybot management program with their entry, “Microsoft Windows Anti Spyware“. When it came out, I yawned at it. OK, Microsoft’s entry into this, it’ll be like most of the rest of their utilities, weak and underpowered. Still, I wanted to check it out because I wanted to see if it was any better (or worse) than the two solutions I already ran. I have to say I was very impressed. It’s not the typical weak ass Microsoft app, it was very fast, and it found three things that the other two did not. On my initial test, I ran Ad-Aware and Spybot first, then ran Microsoft’s app. The MS one found a few things that the others didn’t, including some registry entries from some crap installed with a p2p program that I no longer had installed. Because of this result, MS’s app has moved into the regular rotation with the other two, so when I’m looking for Spyware, I make sure and run all three programs. However, I can see myself dropping Ad-Aware, as it doesn’t seem to find anything that the other two don’t. But for now I’ll keep using it.
To summarize, if you don’t use any kind of Spyware checker, you’re a fool, and you should be. Go get one of the three programs I talk about here, and use ’em. Regularly.