There are hundreds of different anti-spyware programs on the market today. Only 100 of them are capable of providing a minimal set of functions that are related to system protection. Other, so-called spyware removers, are useless or even harmful programs that should be avoided. Besides, even when discussing these 100 legitimate products, you should remember that the most of them are not ready for daily use. According to our experts, people can trust only about 20 of anti-spyware programs that are capable of protecting the system from well-known cyber threats. Also, only ten programs or less are capable of identifying and removing newly launched and emerging parasites. These programs encouraged us to create this anti-spyware comparison:
Malwarebytes Anti Malware
BullGuard Mobile Security
Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus
Norton Internet Security
Defender Pro Ultimate
How did we test these programs?
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 on 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.
To check previously mentioned anti-spyware programs, 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, antivirus software, 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 – thousands of people cannot even imagine the necessity of antivirus and anti-spyware software. Also, there are thousands of unaware PC users who use outdated anti-virus and anti-spyware what is the same as having NO security software at all.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. To guarantee the same test environment for all anti-spyware products, we installed Acronis True Image. Also, 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.
What is spyware?
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. Ransomware, 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.
I have anti-virus, why do I need anti-spyware?!
If you could go back in the 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 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-spyware programs. The most of them can be used for a successful identification and removal of such cyber threats as trojans, ransowmare viruses, adware, 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.