The sad state of Antispyware Programs

Last week PCWorld conducted another Antispyware test “Best Vista Antispyware” … the results are scary!



Of particular note is the sections marked as “Inactive samples” for both adware and spyware … the article defines this as:
An inactive sample is like an application you’ve downloaded and haven’t yet installed.”


First I have to wonder where is SunBelt’s CounterSpy? … anyway the results do not give much hope to the average user that gets unexpectedly infected by a download that is bundled with a host of (unwanted) goodies … it doesn’t look to me like any of these programs do a very good job at “disinfecting” your system.


In the Adware section it is not good enough to detect “Active samples” … where 4 out of 5 were 100%, but they need to do a much better job at removing what they detect. The Spyware section is even worse … so what are you supposed to do?


1) Do not depend on freeware Antispyware programs to give you adaquate protection … 
2) Dealing with Unwanted Spyware and Parasites



8 Responses to “The sad state of Antispyware Programs”

  1. I agree with “Where is CounterSpy?”.
    Im also wondering where are the results for PC Tools and BitDefender?

  2. Doug,
    PCTools = Spyware Doctor
    As for BitDefender they are considered an Antivirus program not Antispyware …

  3. We were also disappointed not to see CounterSpy included. Apparently, there was a miscommunication from somewhere (perhaps from our marketing people), that the current release of CounterSpy (version 2.5) was in beta. Since PC World prefers not to test beta, it wasn’t included in this roundup.

    The folks at PC World are being very cooperative and understanding with us and we hope to see a test/review in the future.

    Alex Eckelberry
    Sunbelt Software

  4. I wonder why Ad-Aware and A-Squared were not included. Also, it’s worth noting that in the last two days Spybot S&D is now up to version 1.5.1, which includes immunization for Firefox and Opera and has a hosts-file tweaker.

  5. My Wife has used Ad-Aware for years. I think lately though she has not been too happy with it. Spybot remains in her good graces though.

    Its funny about Bitdefender being AV and not AntiSpyware. It works good for me in preventing spyware. Weird.

  6. Angus,
    As for Ad-Aware, it was explained in the article that they did not have a “Vista” version at the time …

    As for SpyBot S&D I’m afraid that a few additional features will not improve their detection rate as shown in the chart I posted.

  7. An issue with these tests is that their quality is questionable. So I wouldn’t give too much credence to a PCWorld type of test (although from a marketing standpoint this is the one read by most of the people) because they proved many times that they can’t create a good test from a technical point of view.

  8. Cd-MaN,
    re: An issue with these tests is that their quality is questionable”
    If you read the PcWorld article you’ll see that they no longer do the tests.

    “formal tests independently conducted by research company AV-Test.org”

    So it does add a lot of credence … IMHO

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