In its current issue, PC Magazine has an interesting review of 11 anti-spyware programs. Spy Stoppers is available online.
It’s a pretty good overview, marred by one huge omission: The article doesn’t include a definition of spyware. In fact, I’ve found that this sloppy use of the terms spyware and adware is causing mass confusion among people. It’s not fair that reasonably benign programs like Gator (annoying, but easy to remove) should get lumped in with CoolWebSearch (hostile, evil, and nearly impossible to remove).
Right now, the purveyors of the truly awful CoolWebSearch program and its many variants are engaged in a battle to take over as many innocent machines as possible. Someone has shut down the incredibly useful Spyware Info Web site, which offers the free CWShredder utility to remove this parasite. I’m not particularly worried about cookies from DoubleClick, but I am concerned that a program can install itself and then aggressively hide its actions and make itself impossible to remove.
That’s not spyware. That’s a hostile takeover.