Do I Still Need Anti-Spyware Protection?
Do we still need both anti-virus and anti-spyware protection? I've always been told that, but I use Norton AntiVirus 2012, which claims to handle viruses, spyware and other threats. Is this sufficient, or should I still download an anti-spyware tool?
Is Anti-Spyware Software Obsolete?
For many years, it was essential to use both anti-virus and anti-spyware software. That's because viruses and spyware are distinctly different types of security threats, and different technologies were required to detect and remove them. But today, we have the more generic "anti-malware" programs which attempt to protect against all types of threats, including spyware. So do you still need a dedicated anti-spyware program? There are two schools of thought.
On one hand are those who say dedicated anti-spyware is a waste of time, computer resources, and money if you already run a good all-around anti-malware package that scans for spyware. The anti-spyware functions of Norton, McAfee, Avast, and many other internet security suites are just as effective as dedicated anti-spyware programs such as Spybot. So why pay twice for the same protection? Even if you use free anti-spyware alternatives, you're still running two programs, and likely impacting the overall performance of your computer.
On the other hand are those who can never be too careful. They probably have chain bolts on their front doors as well as locks. No security program detects all threats, they say, so it pays to have more than one line of defense against spyware.
I tend to agree with the first group. Anti-malware software has evolved to the point where it provides adequate protection against spyware for most users under most circumstances. If you are worried that some spyware may have slipped through your defenses, download a free anti-spyware program such as Malwarebytes MBAM, or Spybot Search & Destroy.
A Word of Caution...
If you decide to use a dedicated anti-spyware program, use this secondary security tool to do a one-time scan, but don't run it in "always on" or "real time" mode. Here's why...
I've always advised that it's not a good idea to run multiple anti-virus programs at the same time. Because these programs contain the virus signatures that are used to detect viruses, one anti-virus program may detect the other as evil, and attack it. In some cases, BOTH programs will go on the offensive against each other, and a "death spiral" ensues. This can cause your computer to slow to a crawl or lock up entirely. If you MUST have more than one real-time anti-virus program installed, use the program's control panel to temporarily disable one of them.
Some people swear by MBAM, and claim that it can find nasty viruses, spyware and rootkits that other programs do not detect. I've had some success using MBAM on badly infected machines, and found that it runs just fine alongside an active anti-virus program. I have not tried the "Real-Time Active Malware Prevention" feature in the paid version of MBAM, because I've never had a case where the on-demand scanner in free version didn't get the job done.
Here's an even better idea, if you think your anti-virus may have missed something, or you can't even start Windows due to a virus infection. Scan your system with a standalone tool that runs from a boot disk. You can load Microsoft System Sweeper to a CD or USB flash drive, then restart your computer. This allows System Sweeper to scan and remove any infections without loading Windows, or tripping over your anti-virus software.
I spend a lot of time online, and in the course of my research I visit a diverse range of websites to which most people are not exposed. My personal strategy is to use AVG or another of the free anti-virus programs, and keep MBAM handy for occasional "peace of mind" scans.
What's your view about the need for dedicated anti-spyware protection? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 12 Jan 2012
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Do I Still Need Anti-Spyware Protection? (Posted: 12 Jan 2012)
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