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Anti-Spyware Tips And TricksAnti-Spyware Tips And Tricks

Get the straight dope from IT managers and security consultants about the best anti-spyware products, links to favorite anti-spyware information and software, how to tell if your system is infected, and what to do about it if it is.

Mitch Wagner

May 12, 2005

4 Min Read

Cletus Piper said he coordinates 10 offices and about 150 users for a large non-profit organization. He said he started using Microsoft AntiSpyware, and was at first gratified to see how little spyware it found. Then he tried Sunbelt Software Counter Spy and found that Counter Spy discovered several spyware programs that Microsoft missed. He later added Spy Sweeper to his toolbox, and said that Counter Spy and Spy Sweeper together are the best products he's found.

Buz Allen said: "I own my little computer company and work out of a dedicated workshop behind my house in South Mississippi." He said he makes a respectable income "debugging computers that are stopped up and constipated with spyware, cookie programs, and other junk." He added: "The price for debugging and Windows Updates and other things runs less than $150 in most cases. Some may think this steep. On the other hand, most of these units were completely unusable when they came here. They returned in a nearly new state with the speed greatly increased, making the owners very happy. "I use a mixture of four to five programs in my efforts to relieve most PCs from their sorrow. On several occasions, I have dumped over 2,300 cookies, malware, trojans, browser hijackers and the like from hard drives. Sometimes it's just a challenge just to get the computer to boot in a normal manner. Of course, safe mode only allows a basic number of drivers to load so many system functions aren't available in safe mode. "Window Washer is one of the best cookie malware removers I have used, in conjunction with Ad-Aware and Spybot. It's a sure thing your on the right path to success. But another program that I stumbled upon that's a wonder to me is PestPatrol. That one found over 2,000 programs on one PC alone! Last but not least is Advanced Registry Optimizer. It's user-friendly, and it's great for re-organizing your registry files with backup, optimization and registry defragmentation. Some additional advice from Allen: - "Ad-Aware and Spybot work well, but you have to be savvy using these programs. Many Quicken files appear to be malware files to Ad-Aware and Spybot. - "You learn as you go here. If you're good enough, download HijackThis. But be warned, this is death if you don't know what you're doing. - "Buy a jump drive or other external data storage backup and use it before you dump anything. Some programs have back-up and restore and some don't. Read everything you can about the programs you use. Utilize and take on-line courses. Educate yourself. Jason McFall said: "I have this habit every day or so going through the services on my Windows 2000 machine. If I can't remember what the service is for, I look it up on the Internet. I have found more malicious crap this way than any other way. I regularly export the entire registry to a new file and compare it to an older version. If I find something I don't like, like 'Search Optimizer' or '180Search,' I start deleting off the hard drive and out of the registry, even though that can be dangerous." Misti Balcom, systems administrator for William A. Smith & Son, said: "I am the system administrator of an insurance agency. I walked in the door Monday morning bright-eyed and ready to take on the world. Ten minutes later, I was battling seven trojans and a mass of spy/ad/malware on one PC." She added, "It is now Thursday. Yesterday, I stopped fighting the little buggers, and reformatted the drive, reinstalled XP Pro and just finished reinstalling all the programs needed for the user's job. "The point? I run not one, but three anti-spyware programs and Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition. They all found these digital monsters and they said they were deleting or quarantining them, but the malware kept coming back (even after running the PC through safe mode gauntlet)." She said she uses Spybot, Ad-Aware, and Microsoft AntiSpyware, and is evaluating Webroot Spy Sweeper.

About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

California Bureau Chief, Light Reading

Mitch Wagner is California bureau chief for Light Reading.

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