David Szpunar: Lead Engineer, PC Help Services

David's Church Information Technology

December 3rd, 2007 at 4:27 pm Print This Post Print This Post

Spyware: The pain in my…

Windows Defender used to be my go-to anti-spyware software. After all, it was free, unobtrusive, simple, and seemed to catch a lot of junk. Then I worked on a user’s computer today that Defender said was clean. It wasn’t. There were at least six different forms of spyware on there, causing various popups, warnings that the computer was infected with spyware (duh! Of course the warnings by the spyware are less then scrupulous!), a weird desktop wallpaper warned of infection, and even putting a yellow bar at the top of the browser when visiting symantec.com warning of spyware infection with a link (not to Symantec) to “fix the problem.” Oh yeah, I’m going to click on that!

Anyway, normally I would try Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware and Spybot Search & Destroy next. I’ve had mixed results with both of these in the past; they’re generally very good products but I had heard several things a while ago (not even sure where) about Sunbelt Software’s CounterSpy software. They have both Enterprise and Home editions; both have trials but to test it out, I chose the Home edition for this one computer. I installed the download, ran a full scan, and it found five items that Windows Defender missed! Zap. Problem gone. I’m impressed. The Enterprise functionality they advertise, which supposedly has a nice administrative dashboard to monitor all this stuff centrally (if it works half as well as the Symantec console and is even one-fifth easier to use it should be sweet). Price looks to be around the same as our Symantec deployment (not that we can get rid of antivirus, it’s just comparable), which is more than the freebies but if we do try it on the whole network and it finds a lot, it’s probably worth it. I’m putting it on my to-do list.

This should be an interesting test considering that another major commercial antispyware vendor I’ve heard of, Webroot, seems to have Jason Powell steamed due to their poor communication! I’ve never used Webroot, but if Sunbelt can do the communication thing and get the job done, I’ll at least consider it.

Anyone else use CounterSpy and have comments to share?