Microsoft's AntiSpyware

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by James, Jan 13, 2005.

  1. James

    James Photojournalist

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    Introduction

    Spyware, everybody knows what it is as it seems to be everywhere lately. Another familiar name, Microsoft, I'm not sure if I know anyone who does not know them. I have always wanted to see a product from Microsoft that would detect and remove spyware. Why? Because Microsoft knows their software and would understand how to remove anything that is not apart of their system properly. There are a few decent Anti-Spyware applications out there, Spybot Search and destroy and Ad-Aware.

    Now, there's another contender: Microsoft's AntiSpyware. It's currently in beta testing. Microsoft purchased Giant Software, a small company based in the United States of 7 employees.

    I have been testing this software for about a week now and I am very impressed with it so far. Here is an overview of the features:

    • Real time protection
    • SpyNet Community
    • Advanced tools such as Browser hijack restore, Tracks eraser and System Explorers
    Overview and Impressions

    The installer was simple to use and went very smoothly. After the installation was completed I was prompted on how I'd like to have AntiSpyware setup. It asked me if I wanted to enable RealTime protection, if I wanted to run an initial scan and if I wanted to be apart of SpyNet. After selecting RealTime AntiSpyware launched and my initial thought was, "Wow, this looks a lot like Giant's AntiSpyware". Obviously it is, but has Microsoft's name and branding through the application:

    [​IMG]

    After poking around all of the options available at my disposal I found that this is not just a re-branded piece of software that Microsoft bought. From my experience it's much easier to find advanced tools such as Browser hijack restore, Tracks eraser and System Explorers:

    [​IMG]

    So, onto the most important part of this software, its heart, the spyware detection and removal system. I powered up my software testing machine and loaded a bunch of spyware infested applications on it [Kazaa, Bear Share, Weather Bug, etc...]. I also installed SpyBot and AdAware for comparisons sake.

    Here are the results:

    MSFT AntiSpyware AdAware SpyBot
    Detected spyware objects: 22 27 26
    Infected files: 788 225 180

    As you can see the results vary much between each application. What I like about MSFT's AntiSpyware is that summarizes all of the objects so that they are easily readable and distinguishable. You can view a information on every piece of spyware that is found on your system. It lists the name of the spyware, author, description, advice on what should be done and the threat level of the spyware. You are given a choice on if you want to remove the piece of software or ignore it:

    [​IMG]

    Just like SpyBot, Microsoft's AntiSpyware has some advanced tools. One of the tools which comes in handy (HijackThis also can do this) is the Browser Hijack tool. It allows you to reset or set Internet Explorers home page, search settings, and other misc. settings. Although this clears temp files and history, it does not remove the index.dat files. You can boot in Safe Mode w/ Command prompt and run this command: del /s index.dat to remove and index.dat files though. System Explorers lists all currently running programs that have a service running. It does not list system services. This feature is useful if you want to find out more information on the services that your applications run / use:

    [​IMG]

    My fear of installing this application was the Real Time protection feature. I saw this while going down the list of features and a sinking feeling of worry set in. Since I'm an inquisitive person, I enabled this option during the setup process. To my surprise, I found that doing my day-to-day work on my computer I experience no slow down. What I also liked was when I unlocked my computer in the morning I was prompted with an "alert" that it found some addition spyware and asked what I wanted to do:

    [​IMG]

    Final thoughts

    For the past week that I have been testing this application, I have been impressed with its performance and detection engine. I am sure by the time that this is out of the beta stage (AntiSpyware is currently in beta 1 stage as of this article date) and into the production stage that the performance will be even better. I'm also excited to test out the Enterprise version of this application from Microsoft. I am unsure of the details yet...

    I'm not sure what the pricing scheme will be for this once it's released. I am hoping that Microsoft will release this to their customers for free.

    Over all I recommend this software to anyone who needs a good AntiSpyware application.
     

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    James, Jan 13, 2005
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