Antispyware app loses competitive edge

Antispyware app Spybot Search & Destroy loses competitive edge

Safer Networking's Spybot Search & Destroy aims to provide free real-time protection against spyware. However, its version number hasn't changed since we reviewed the product a year ago; and based on recent tests, the program no longer provides good spyware protection.

Spybot passed all of our false positive tests, correctly detecting legitimate toolbars and 6285 other sample files. It did reasonably well in our behavior-based tests, too, correctly detecting critical system changes, additions to the HKCU and HKLM 'Run' keys (which spyware programs commonly target), and alterations of the default Internet Explorer home and search pages and the Hosts file (which can redirect URLs to malicious sites). But Spybot did not detect additions to the startup folder, which can be used to launch spyware applications at boot time.

Spybot detected less than 2 percent of our inactive adware and spyware threats, indicating that its signature database of threats is insufficient. It also failed to detect all nine inactive rootkits. In response to threats actively installed on the PC, it ignored three of ten active adware threats and four of ten active spyware threats. Finally, it failed to disinfect the files and Registry entries of any of the active adware and spyware threats.

Spybot is easy enough to install and use, but its interface is somewhat complicated, with many check boxes to handle various tasks. And because it lacks an auto-update feature, you'll have to reach out for signature updates manually.

For a free program it does offer impressive behavior-based protection. Its ResidentTeaTimer watches for changes to the Windows Registry and other critical system areas, while its SDHelper and Immunize layer blocks Internet Explorer ActiveX exploits and other malicious downloads. Tech-savvy folks will appreciate that Spybot lists Browser Helper Objects (BHOs) and ActiveX controls installed on your PC and that it can securely delete files as well.

Safer Networking does not offer telephone support, but we were impressed with the quality of Web-based support on the company's forums, where dedicated fans answer questions on everything from false positives to the complexities in the software's feature set.

For many years, this freeware program was the antispyware standard, but, regrettably, it is no longer competitive.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ryan Naraine

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?