By now, surely everyone is familiar with the Dummies series of books. Who’d have thought that a series of guides designed and branded specifically for thickos would become best-sellers?
Even Sex For Dummies sold; indeed still sells. Probably online, we would think, more than in book shops. Walking up to the counter with that title could be a bit of a knowing smirk moment for the cashier, with any insistence that it’s for a friend falling on deaf ears. Still, you could always try to hide it in between the pages of another book that’s a slightly less embarrassing purchase. Katie Price’s latest autobiography, perhaps.
But this isn’t a review of Sex For Dummies, as more astute readers will have noticed. Anti-Spyware For Dummies (ASD) is written in the same basic manner, however, the idea being that it allows even the most clueless of computer users to ensure their PC is kept spyware-free. It provides real-time protection against spyware, adware and trojans, with automatic scheduled scans of your machine. The interface is simple to use, as you’d expect, and all the options are set to sensible defaults, so the novice user doesn’t have to do any fiddling around in the program’s setup screen if they don’t want to.
Upon installation, the program automatically updates itself and runs a preliminary quick spyware scan to see if anything untoward is nestling on your system. This initial scan only took about ten minutes on our two-thirds full 200GB hard drive, and it turned up fourteen problems. Twelve of these were minor tracking cookies and one of them was a piece of adware; Gamespy Arcade to be precise. While this is a legitimate program some gamers use, it does contain adware elements, and as with many anti-virus companies ASD flagged it as a risk, which is fair enough.
While none of this was of too much concern, the final element the program uncovered was an “email-worm”, a backdoor variant that allows remote access onto a computer. We had run a full scan with a respected Internet security suite beforehand, and this was something it had apparently missed. So we let Anti-Spyware For Dummies clean these items off our system. The program keeps quarantined items for 30 days in a trash can, so if it has accidentally got rid of something that’s needed, you can always undelete it.
The next test was to set ASD off on a full scan, and this took quite some time; just over three hours in fact. The results were a further six items uncovered; two trojans, a trojan downloader, two “trojan droppers”, and, strangely enough, the same email worm it had uncovered previously.
This seemed like quite a payload to discover that our existing security solutions (we also have a secondary line of defence malware-catching program) had failed to find. We wanted to look into this further, so we left the trojans uncleaned by Anti-Spyware For Dummies, uninstalled it, and installed another leading anti-spyware solution to see if that program would find any of them.
It didn’t, not a single one, which led us to consider the possibility of false positives here. We can’t say for sure, and it doesn’t help that ASD doesn’t point to any specific files or locations, so all we could do was run sweeps with other security programs which turned up nothing.
That issue aside, we hit another patch of trouble in this review, after we had run the first scan and removed the initial spyware detected. The next time we fired up our PC, it came up with system errors in mid-boot and ran chkdsk, which took some time to rectify a number of file errors. All was well in the end, but it was a worrying ten minutes, and no doubt would have been doubly so if we were a “dummy” at the art of computing.
Of course, we can’t say it was definitely Anti-Spyware For Dummies that caused these issues, but we didn’t do anything else except run the program through its paces in the preceding session. However, it could have been a coincidence. That said, at the end of the review we were happy enough to uninstall the program from our machine. We can’t say we’d recommend it to our grandma to use, either. If she had a PC, that is. She’s only just got hold of an iron you can plug in.
Contact: +1 866 793 0455