|Average removal rate|
|Average scan time|
|Appearance and design|
|Ease to setup/uninstall|
|Blocks malicious web content|
|Protects browser settings|
|Blocks tracking cookies|
|Restores removed objects|
|Shows detailed scan reports|
|MS Windows versions|
|Top anti-spyware products||SpyHunte r||Malwareb ytes Anti Malware||STOPzill a||Bullguar d Internet Security||SecureAn ywhere AntiViru s||XoftSpy AntiViru s Pro||Emsisoft Anti Malware||Hitman Pro||Defender Pro Ultimate|
There are hundreds of different anti-spyware programs on the market today. Only 100 of them are capable of providing at least minimal level of spyware protection. Other so-called spyware removers are practically useless and even harmful. Besides, even when discussing about these 100 legitimate products, you should remember that the bigger part of these products is not ready for a daily use. According to our experts, people can trust only about 20 of anti-spyware that are capable of protecting system from well-known cyber threats. In addition, only less than 10 programs are capable of identifying and removing new, emerging parasites. These products have encouraged us to create this anti-spyware comparison:
Bullguard Internet Security
Defender Pro Ultimate
Emsisoft Anti Malware
XoftSpy AntiVirus Pro
There are thousands of different spyware and malware parasites in the market today. While some of them are prevalent and widely spread, others can be detected only in several computers around the world. Needless to say that it is virtually impossible to collect all known threats altogether and use them for testing anti-spyware, anti-virus or any other security program. Furthermore, it would also be wrong to create new parasites just for the testing. That's why we decided to choose another way.
In order to check previously mentioned anti-spywares, we decided to collect the most prevalent and the most rapidly spreading parasites. They have the highest probability of infecting a regular PC system. So, we took a typical PC and gave it to a typical, not a computer savvy user for one week. We asked him to work on his daily tasks, surf the Internet, read e-mails, watch online videos, download music, movies, software and computer games. We also told him to do anything he wants with his computer. He could install applications, reconfigure system settings, visit any website he wants. Nevertheless, there was one special requirement – we asked him not to use any firewalls, antiviruses, anti-spyware, anti-malware or other security-related programs and online services.
Why didn't we install any security application? The answer is very simple - there are thousands of people who still do not realize the necessity of antivirus and anti-spyware software. In addition, there are thousands of unaware PC users who use outdated anti-virus and anti-spyware what is the same as having NO security software at all. They begin thinking about that only when their systems get infected with certain parasites.
After one week of waiting, we started our test. As we had expected, our PC was infected with different parasites including spyware, adware, trojans, browser hijackers, corrupt security software, etc. In order to guarantee the same test environment for all anti-spyware products, we installed Acronis True Image. In addition, we installed the first anti-spyware program, updated it and run a thorough test. After the test was over, we wrote down the results and restored the initial system state by recovering system disk image with the help of Acronis. Then we installed another anti-spyware program, run a test, etc.
Now we need to explain how we performed our tests. Here is the test algorithm in details:
1. Install an anti-spyware program.
2. Connect the infected computer to the Internet.
3. Update its components and parasite definitions database.
4. Set the program to maximum protection level (reconfigure real-time and scan options).
5. If available, turn on real-time monitoring and let the computer run for some time (up to an hour or two). Log all real-time monitor’s activity. Allow an anti-spyware program to remove identified threats.
6. Perform a full system scan. Use a spyware remover to eliminate all parasites found. Log all missed threats.
7. Repeat full system scan. Use a spyware remover to eliminate all discovered pests. Log all missed threats.
8. Restart the test system in Safe Mode. Repeat full system scan. Log all missed threats.
9. Restart the system in normal mode. Run full system scan once again.
10. Make a list of parasites that an anti-spyware program missed or did not remove.
The complete list of parasites and their essential files is provided below. We did not include any registry keys, configuration, database, text or any other files except for executable (EXE), library (DLL, DLL_) and specific (SYS, OCX) ones, as they are useless and harmless without main parasite components (provided).
It should also be noted that some parasite names might be unknown to you or incorrect. This is because all antivirus and anti-spyware companies have their own malware naming policies, which often are incompatible with each other. Furthermore, some files shown to be associated with a particular parasite may actually belong to different threats. This is because modern parasites are able to connect to the Internet and download other pests or update itself without notifying the user. As a result, a lot of different risks share the same files, directories, registry entries, etc.
Brave Sentry, malware
Fivesec, a trojan
Internet Optimizier, a browser hijacker
C:\Program Files\Internet Optimizer
C:\Program Files\Internet Optimizer\optimize.exe
Jupillites, a trojan
LowZones, a trojan
Maxd, a dialer
Maxifiles, a browser hijacker
Network Monitor, a trojan
C:\Program Files\Network Monitor
C:\Program Files\Network Monitor\netmon.exe
Nibu (Dumaru), a backdoor
Qoologic, a trojan
Sality, a worm
Spy Falcon, corrupt anti-spyware
Spyware Soft Stop, corrupt anti-spyware
Surf SideKick, adware
C:\Program Files\SurfSideKick 3
C:\Program Files\SurfSideKick 3\ssk.exe
C:\Program Files\SurfSideKick 3\sskbho.dll
C:\Program Files\SurfSideKick 3\sskcore.dll
C:\Documents and Settings\[Current User]\Application Data\sskknwrd.dll
C:\Documents and Settings\[Current User]\Application Data\sskuknwrd.dll
Various downloaders, trojans
Other infections detected and successfully removed by all tested anti-spyware programs:
Spyware Sheriff, corrupt anti-spyware
Titan Shield, corrupt anti-spyware
WinAntiVirus, corrupt antivirus program
Spyware is malicious software, which can be called one of the most prevalent and dangerous threats that have ever been spread on the Internet. It can be used for gathering personal information, infecting systems with other cyber threats, degrading computers' performance, tricking people into paying for fake services and initiating other malicious activities. Nevertheless, time goes by so there is no surprise that hackers have started releasing other viruses into the wild. Ransowmare, adware, browser hijacker are the latest categories of threats that are becoming more and more popular each day. While some of them are capable of initiating only annoying activities, other ones can seriously affect your computer.. So, there is no doubt that every computer needs anti-virus and anti-spyware.
If you could go back in 2000s, you would remember that antivirus software was capable of solving more than 90% of all PC-related issues. If one antivirus failed to eliminate the infection, installing one or two competitive products always did the job. Nevertheless, companies that create anti-viruses did not pay enough attention to spyware problem, so there is no surprise that hackers decided to focus on this category of viruses. This resulted in a tremendous growth of infections that antiviruses couldn't remove. That's why special anti-spyware programs appeared.
At first, spyware removers were designed to identify and remove only non-viral parasites. They were nothing more than additions to typical anti-virus programs. However, spyware was evolving and neither regular antiviruses nor first generation spyware removers could completely remove emerging pests. That’s why both antivirus and anti-spyware developers began collaborating in order to create a strong protection with advanced anti-spyware detection techniques and vice versa.
Since then, modern spyware removers have become more than just anti-spywares. The most of them can be used for a successful identification and removal of such cyber threats as trojans, ransowmares, adwares, browser hijackers, keyloggers, backdoors... No matter that they are still not capable of replacing regular antiviruses, they are very effective and much more useful than old-fashioned security suites.