Spyware, adware, and malware are terms we have all heard of and most of us probably have at least some basic knowledge and understanding of what they mean. However, how many of us are actually properly protecting our computers against such threats? Keeping your computer up to date security wise can become rather ware-ing (a very bad pun, probably the worst you’ve ever heard, but there you have it.). Let’s have a quick look at what spyware is, how you get it, and what can be done to prevent it from infesting your computer. Spyware is nasty software that is installed furtively on your computer, often without your knowledge or permission. Spyware has come a long way from simply being a minor setback. It has the ability to not only monitor your actions on the computer but take partial control over it as well. Spyware can redirect your web browser activity (high-jacking), install unwanted software, and watch what you’re doing on the computer. It will send you annoying pop-ups and can even have the ability to record your keystrokes. Not surprisingly, the words “identity theft” pop into my head here. As you can see, it’s not only a frustrating dilemma, spyware has a great potential to do serious damage to your computer, as well as your finances. How does spyware slither its way into your computer? There are a lot of ways. One way is what I like to call “click-itch,” that is, the urge to click on unknown links that arrive via email, via popup windows, via unknown websites, and so on. Another way is by downloading and installing software when you don’t know exactly what it is or where it comes from. Sure, it sounds almost too good to be true that you can get software for free. Guess what? It probably is. No-cost software can be riddled with spyware. If you don’t have your browser’s security settings at a sufficient level, it won’t detect unauthorized downloads. This means that when you’re surfing the web, your computer can be “told” by a tainted site to download the spyware, and like anything brainless, it does as it’s instructed to do unless informed not to beforehand. This also means it would be a good idea to keep your browser updated. Spyware can also find its way onto your computer via vulnerabilities in its operating system and programs, especially if you don’t quickly apply patches and updates. Spyware is nasty. Besides equipping your computer with a firewall to ward off spyware, it’s an excellent idea to scan your computer for spyware on a regular basis and take necessary action to remove it. Enter SpyEraser. “SpyEraser combines the latest technologies with pro-active online scanning to ensure the best possible protection so you can enjoy peace of mind while using your computer for what you like doing best. SpyEraser updates daily and will keep your system clean, avoid the risk of system crashes and — most importantly — stay malware free.” This is what Uniblue Systems, the company that makes SpyEraser, claims on its website. This review will examine this statement and put SpyEraser to the test.
Help & Support (4 out of 5)
What’s Hot:  SpyEraser comes with an extensive built-in Help file. [See Help Screenshot] Should this not answer your questions, they have an online FAQ section on their website, as well as an online web form which lets you attach a specific file or screen shot. What’s Not:  One form of support I like to see with applications is a context sensitive help section. SpyEraser does not offer this, so when needing help, you will have to search for what you’re wanting. SpyEraser does not provide telephone support. While I don’t find this to be an issue, it may be important to someone else.
Price to Value (4 out of 5)
What’s Hot:  At the time of this review, SpyEraser was $29.95. They say on their website that you are;
- Saving $10 off the regular price of $39.95.
- Receiving another application called System Tweaker for free which is regularly $39.95.
However, this offer is supposedly only valid until the next day. I believe it’s a “hurry up and order fast” ploy. I’m sure if you were to visit their website next week, you’d probably be offered the same deal. If you purchase SpyEraser and are not 100% satisfied with the application, you simply need to contact them within 30 days of purchasing the application for your money back. No questions asked. With all that said, is SpyEraser a good value for your money? Most anti-spyware applications prices run in the range of $20-40. Therefore your value to cost is fairly standard. I wouldn’t say this application has any more to offer than others of its kind. However, with their special offer in place, if you felt you’d benefit from the free System Tweaker, then I’d say you’d be getting a pretty good deal.
Installation & Setup (4 out of 5)
What’s Hot:  System Requirements are as follows: Minimum Requirements: • Intel Pentium 3 500MHz or Equivalent processor. • 256 MB RAM. • 100 MB free hard disk space. • Graphics mode 1024x768 true color (highest 32-bit). • Microsoft Windows 2000 / XP / Vista (32-bit). • Internet Explorer 5.5. Recommended Requirements: • Intel Pentium 4 1GHz or Equivalent processor. • 512 MB RAM. • 200 MB free hard disk space. • Graphics mode 1024x768 true color (highest 32-bit). • Microsoft Windows 2000 / XP / Vista (32-bit). • Internet Explorer 6. I’ve noticed many applications struggling to keep up with the times that are not Vista compatible. Kudos to SpyEraser for supporting Vista.
User Interface (4 out of 5)
What’s Hot:  SpyEraser consists of four main tabs; Overview, Spyware Scan, Live Guard and Settings. In each of these tabs, there are several buttons on the left which will bring you to different areas. Each section is very detailed, providing you with explanations of everything you need to know. The User Interface is clear, concise, and easy to follow.
Performance (3 out of 5)
What’s Hot:  I completed this review using the trial version of SpyEraser. It automatically started scanning when I opened the application but had the option of pausing or stopping the scan. It took just over 27 minutes to complete the scan and it found one infected item in the registry. [See Scan Results Screenshot]
Product Features (4 out of 5)
What’s Hot:  After the scan was completed and I was given the results, I clicked “Continue.” SpyEraser then proceeded to give me a rather detailed overview about the threat it found. I was provided with the name of the threat (Trojan-Proxy), the threat level (moderate), and a drop down list of what action I would like to perform which were ignore, ignore always, quarantine, or remove. I also had the option of viewing exactly where on my computer the threat was found. Below this information, I was given a very detailed explanation on what a Trojan-Proxy was: A Trojan-Proxy is a program that tries to convert the host machine into a proxy server and permits remote users to secretly access Internet from the host machine. This program is mostly used by spammers in order to circulate spam emails on a large scale. Virus coders usually include this program in Trojan packs and sell networks of infected machines to spammers. It can leave the system more vulnerable and cause damage to user’s data. This program can also pose security and privacy threats to one’s system, needless to mention the damage it can cause to the important data and installed programs. Below this window, I was presented with two boxes that could be checked. One being “remove all threats” and the other being “create restore point.” I then can click the Clean System button. SpyEraser provides you with many customizable options, some of which are:
- Quick scan or Deep scan.
- What you would like to scan; Cookies, Registry, Memory and Files.
- Notify when updates are available.
- Show alerts for software not recognized by SpyEraser.
- What drives you would like scanned.
SpyEraser has a feature called Live Guard. Here you can activate/inactivate several Internet, System and Application guards, restricting or checking/monitoring certain actions. For example, if I were to activate “Internet Explorer Toolbars,” SpyEraser will monitor changes made to the toolbar. Or if I were to activate “AppInit_DLL,” SpyEraser will impede illegitimate alterations or additions that can be made in Windows AppInit DLL’s. Not sure what I’m talking about? SpyEraser will explain what each action means. [See Live Guard Screenshot] You can schedule SpyEraser to scan once, daily, weekly or monthly. In the Schedule tab, you can also select to have the detected spyware automatically quarantined. [See Scheduler Screenshot] When you’re connected to the Internet, SpyEraser offers Real Time defence, resulting in even greater protection.
Security & Privacy (4 out of 5)
What’s Hot:  SpyEraser is equipped with security restrictions to prevent users from making alterations to the computer. You have the option of disabling:
- Registry Editor.
- Control Panel.
- Task Manager.
- Lock Workstation.
- Changing Passwords.
- Menu on Taskbar.
I tried to disable my Control Panel. For the action to take effect, you are required to log off/log on. After doing so, my Control Panel was removed from my Start menu, so I ran a search for it. The search found it, but when I tried to click on it, a warning window popped up telling me the operation had been cancelled due to restrictions and to contact my system administrator. [See Restrictions Screenshot]
As previously mentioned in this review, the only thing I would like to see would be a context-sensitive help section. Other than this minor change, I think SpyEraser covers all the basics that you need to protect your computer from spyware.
I think SpyEraser is your average run-of-the-mill antispyware application. Nothing jumped out at me as being spectacular nor did it seem to have any features that set it apart from other similar applications. That being said, SpyEraser’s performance was flawless, the user interface was appealing, and the features that are offered did the job and seemed to do it well.
Spyware Doctor, Spy Sweeper