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Two spy-busters are not always better than one

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webwatch

Two follow-ups. One is that Microsoft is apparently leaving its options open about charging for AntiSpyware, the anti-spyware application it recently bought from Giant. Actually it bought the company Giant as well. There will be a second Beta version, probably in the middle of the year, and then the great software near-monopoly will decide - possibly about a basic personal version and a commercial one. Er, should we take that to mean a free crap version and an expensive 'enterprise' working version?

'So what?' you say. 'There are plenty of other free anti-spyware/malware/ adware applications around.' Well, yes.

But according to one of the computer newsfeeds, Windows Secrets, at www. windowssecrets. com, I have been offering overly conventional advice about eradicating malware by advocating the use of SpyBot and AdAware in conjunction with each other. Editor Brian Livingston says: 'The computer press often recommends that the two anti-malware products should be used together? because both of these products have low-end, freeware versions.' He cites an AOL online study carried out last year that showed that 67 per cent of computers examined lacked up-to-date anti-spyware, 20 per cent were infected with viruses and 80 per cent were seething with malware. But, he points out, buried in the report is the fact that only Giant's AntiSpyware (the $30 pre-Microsoft takeover version) picked up more than half the spyware on computers - 63 per cent. AdAware got 47 per cent and Spybot 33 per cent. The really depressing thing is that using two anti-spyware products does not seem to improve things much above 70 per cent.

SpywareBlaster is especially endorsed by Livingston. He advises using it with IE Spyblaster from, er, the bloke who conducted the AOL survey. So there it is.

Perhaps. Still, you might wonder what the fuss is about when the virus and malware-riddled computers examined still seemed to function well enough in the real world. I'll explain why next week.

sutherland. lyall@btinternet. com

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