Beware of Rogue Antispyware and Antipop-up Products
The most popular antispyware products are Ad-Aware, Spybot Search and Destroy, and SpySweeper, all of which have free versions (Spybot S&D is donation ware). The free versions will do both scan and clean most spyware, adware and malware, and do a pretty good job. Unfortunately much of their popularity is by word of mouth and a few magazine reviews. However, there is a class of antispyware. Rogue or Suspect antispyware, that advertises through the very pop-ups that they are claiming to remove, and often badger a user with high pressure tactics until they finally agree to accept the download.
One of the hallmarks of these products is that they are free to download and scan, but if you want to clean your system, you must purchase a license. Some of these will produce false positives, claiming spyware infections to further convince the user to purchase the product. The most insidious of the lot, recently called “extortion ware” by some sites, will also use malicious installations, blocking removal and in some cases cause connectivity problems, requiring the user to buy the product to get the uninstaller. In addition, a few of these rogue products will actually be spyware themselves, recording data and reporting back to their vendors sites.
The Web site SpywareWarrior.com, lists over 90 applications that have been tested or are suspected to be “products are of unknown, questionable, or dubious value as anti-spyware protection.” While not all the products listed on Spyware warrior’s site may be bad, you will probably want to steer clear. Another site worth checking out is the Spyware Guide which offers information and tips on spyware problems.