Letter #8: A more secure Internet is the only true spyware solution
Reader: Phil Stilliard
Environment: I support small businesses and home Windows users.
Spyware dilemma: After scanning PCs with Spybot-Search & Destroy, all of the shortcuts on Windows XP are deleted and nothing works. Only the Internet Explorer shortcut remains. I cannot use the control panel. I can open Windows Explorer, but I can't run any software or system restore. This happened on three different PCs. The error message I receive says "This file does not have a program associated with it for performing this action. Create an association in the Folder Options Control Panel." I did not get any solution to this problem from Spybot, probably because I used the free version.
I use the free versions of spyware tools whenever possible. I have not had problems with other software, though I do try to make sure the products I use won't try to remove files or processes from other similar software.
Antispyware solution: Sunbelt Software's CounterSpy, Lavasoft's Ad-Aware, Spybot-Search & Destroy
I think that more than one spyware package is necessary to keep a PC clean of threats. After using one antispyware package, it is important that you uninstall it before installing and updating another.
Counterspy has been useful. Ad-Aware does not update frequently enough, and I have had some problems with Spybot, as noted above.
The only true solution to the spyware problem is to move toward a more secure Internet, where e-mail messages are tracked by Internet Service Providers, attaching headers to all the messages passing through their mail servers. ISPs should also be required to shut down Web sites proven to be involved in illegal activity.
Think you can help Phil solve his Spybot dilemma? Sound Off.
For more letters to the editor, click for the complete series.