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Spy Fighters: Know when to run various antispyware tools

SearchWindowsSecurity.com reader
When asked which antispyware solutions work best and when to use them, SearchWindowsSecurity.com readers had a lot to say. The following commentary is one of 10 letters to the editor describing readers' preferred antispyware solutions, their biggest spyware concerns and, in some cases, their own tips for preventing spyware infections. Click for the complete series.

Letter #9: Know when to run various antispyware tools

Reader: Doug Edelman
Information Technology Specialist, Army
Edelman Computer Services

Environment: In addition to my full-time role supporting the Army, I also run a part-time computer services business.

Spyware dilemma: Naturally, Army support dilemmas are different from those I see in my business. Secure networks have their own configuration issues apart from the desktop, and group policies are pushed down from the domain as well. I use Pest Patrol Corporate to scan desktops in our workgroup for spyware, and Symantec AntiVirus on the PCs and servers. In my business, most calls I receive are spyware related, so I've become something of an expert.

Antispyware solution: Spybot-S&D, Lavasoft's Ad-Aware, Computer Associates' eTrust PestPatrol Corporate, Microsoft AntiSpyware (beta), Javacool Software's SpywareBlaster, HijackThis, Symantec AntiVirus, McAfee AntiVirus, ZoneAlarm Firewall

For my business clients, I recommend Spybot and Ad-Aware, which are great freebies that complement each other well and should be on everyone's machine. I'm also quite impressed with PestPatrol, recently acquired by Computer Associates, and Giant AntiSpy, recently acquired by Microsoft. Both provide a much deeper scan than either freeware. I also tell my customers to use spykillers with preventative software like Spyware Blaster. For more technology-savvy users, HijackThis is an invaluable diagnostic aid, though it must be used cautiously when it comes to making repairs.

Dave explains how often to run various antispyware tools to keep systems clean: I recommend spyware sweeps at least weekly, but Microsoft Antivirus offers a default automatic daily scan as part of the setup, which I recommend to my users. My personal machine has Pest Patrol (updated and run manually each week), Spybot-Search & Destroy (updated and run manually each week), Ad-Aware (updated monthly and run manually only if multiple problems are discovered by other programs), and Microsoft AntiSpyware (updated and run automatically each day). For preventative measures, I use Spyware Blaster (updated weekly), and I run McAfee AntiVirus and ZoneAlarm Firewall.

I've written an article on the subject on my blog.


For more letters to the editor, click for the complete series.

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