Spyware, it’s a complete pain in the a@#. It gets everybody, web newbies and seasoned surfers alike and it can be a nightmare to get rid of. In fact, even our mighty editor Riyad was struck down with a nasty case of browser hijacking towards the end of last year. All of which makes it galling that Symantec, the clear world leader in antivirus software, has taken so long to come up with a solution.
That said, while the larger companies floundered, niche developers like Lavasoft and Spybot have prospered and taken a sizeable chunk of the market. Of course, Microsoft has its own AntiSpyware programme in public beta now, while Symantec has finally made its move. Pressure’s on boys.
So after all this rigmarole what do we have? The answer is Norton Internet Security 2005 AntiSpyware Edition (above). Yes, it is what it sounds: a version of its well worn NIS software which also checks for spyware during scans (see below).
The company claims it took so long to bring a product to market because it wanted to get it right, which is a fair enough reason (though also a convenient excuse). Like its well established Antivirus software, the AntiSpyware edition works as a real time detection system and receives automatic updates just as it does virus definitions. Scans can also be run manually or set to occur at a specific time.
It works to differentiate between spyware and legitimate software by employing a system of signature recognition. Applications detected as high risk are repaired or quarantined automatically, lower risks generate a user alert that gives information of the risk, symptoms, its behaviour, transmission details and recommended action.
So how does it perform? Well, I have to say it is hard to tell because when I ran a test it detected nothing (see below). This either means other software I have installed (all three mentioned above) are doing a fine job (which eliminates the need for the Symantec edition) or it has missed something (in which case they all need work). What will appeal to users, however, is the way it integrates with Norton Antivirus.
Given the size of Symantec and the fact it looks set to bundle AntiSpyware as part of its future products, there is no way I can see the software not becoming a success. I just wish it got its backside in gear earlier.
You can check out the public beta here, where it will remain free for a month after installation.