Home | Blog | Software | Reviews and Features | Forum | Help | Donate | About us
topbanner_forum
  *

avatar image

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length
  • December 09, 2016, 01:24:07 PM
  • Proudly celebrating 10 years online.
  • Donate now to become a lifetime supporting member of the site and get a non-expiring license key for all of our programs.
  • donate

Author Topic: Counterspy any good?  (Read 4499 times)

m_s

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 433
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Counterspy any good?
« on: September 13, 2005, 11:15:16 AM »
I've just heard of Counterspy for the first time - from a thread over on Wilders Security (where I have started another thread with this title, but I am interested to know what people here at donationcoder think too). I've downloaded the trial and ran a scan. It looks a whole lot like MSAS, but it caught five things that MSAS has missed in all recent scans (including CoolWebSearch, which I find a little difficult to believe, since I scan regularly with various bits of anti-spyware). I have read reports on this forum of false positives, so I'm a little unsure: is Counterspy any good? I would love to have something really good that would allow me to run fewer things ongoingly... I know that's probably everyone's dream, but if Counterspy isn't that dream piece of software, does anyone have any other recommendations?

Carol Haynes

  • Waffles for England (patent pending)
  • Global Moderator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 7,986
    • View Profile
    • Dales Computer Services
    • Donate to Member
Re: Counterspy any good?
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2005, 11:32:21 AM »
My experience with CounterSpy was rubbish.

If I had followed the software advice (which told me I had over 100 things wrong with my computer) it would have completely hosed my system.

I spent ages checking every single warning (all of which were rated 'serious', 'severe', 'leave this and die a horrible death' ... OK maybe not the last one) only to find that not one single entry was even an issue. OK there were a handful of cookies (but all spyware apps use them to make them look as though they are doing something) but the rest were totally legitimate pieces of software (or related DLL files).

I emailed Sunbelt and was told they 'do get the odd false positive' - but over 100 on a clean system !!

Personally I no longer touch Sunbelt software as they seem to me to becoming all marketing and not much useful substance.

By the way the passing resemblence to MS AS is no coincidence they are both based on the same code base.

For the record other products I use (without the Senbelt haslles) are:

Webroot Spy Sweeper
Microsoft AntiSpyware
Spybot Search & Destroy
Lavasoft AdAware SE Pro
Pest Patrol

The last two are (IMHO) pretty defunct these days as they seem to lack any teeth, and Pest Patrol is a real shame since they sold out to Computer Associates.

Just my 2p, what do other people think?

mouser

  • First Author
  • Administrator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 36,429
    • View Profile
    • Mouser's Software Zone on DonationCoder.com
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: Counterspy any good?
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2005, 12:12:03 PM »
Quote
If I had followed the software advice (which told me I had over 100 things wrong with my computer) it would have completely hosed my system.

i wish your statement was broadcast on speakers to the public once per day -
i have not used a single registry cleaner that didn't flag as should be removed and volunteer to remove entries that were important and needed to run certain apps.  i would just advice people be very careful about accepting recommendations from these tools.

m_s

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 433
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Counterspy any good?
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2005, 12:18:53 PM »
I messed up a system real bad the first time I ran a 'registry-fixing' program, so I'm extremely careful now.  I really wish that I had checked the details of the CoolWebSearch alert I got from Counterspy, but I was a bit jumpy I think, because I know that's a nasty one - so I deleted it, whereas I quarantined the other things.  I'll check on those later, and see if they really were problems...

Carol Haynes

  • Waffles for England (patent pending)
  • Global Moderator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 7,986
    • View Profile
    • Dales Computer Services
    • Donate to Member
Re: Counterspy any good?
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2005, 12:40:53 PM »
The big problem with a lot of Spyware removal programs is the method they use for detection.

CounterSpy is particulalry bad at this.

The way most work is to build a fingerprint for each pest and then look to see if that fingerprint is present on your system. A reasonable method you might think but a lot of these programs take only one item from the fingerprint to start ringing warning bells. This is where CounterSpy falls down really badly.

Their thinking is "File x appears in pest y's fingerprint, file x is present therefore you have pest y". The trouble is file x may be used by any number of useful pieces of software (esp. if it is a DLL file). This method of detecting pests marks down any software containing file x as spyware.

The other big grumble I have is that all of these products (and some AV software) idenitifies certain types of application (such as any form of password retrieval or key logging software) as dangerous. OK we know that password retreival applications have the potential to be used in naughty ways, but to delete them without any warning (as NOD32 does with NirSofts mailpass application) is pretty unforgivable.

My other pet hate is the way a lot of programs overinflate the threat to get users really worried about things. Everything is labelled "serious threat" or "severe" even when they are at most a minor threat. Tracking cookies are a good example of this. It doesn't do any harm to delete them but ultimatelythey don't do anything especially harmful. I have seen security websites recommend turning off cookies altogether - a great solution that has the added advantage that it will break most of your favourite websites (or at least seriously compromise their useability) and make browsing a tedious and irritating experience. This is a good example of where the so-called cure is worse than any potential problem you are trying to get rid of!

The net result is the 'boy who cried wolf' syndrome. When you get a really nasty threat you have become so relaxed about responding to dire warnings that it is likely to be allowed to slip through!

Carol Haynes

  • Waffles for England (patent pending)
  • Global Moderator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 7,986
    • View Profile
    • Dales Computer Services
    • Donate to Member
Re: Counterspy any good?
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2005, 12:51:12 PM »
I messed up a system real bad the first time I ran a 'registry-fixing' program, so I'm extremely careful now.  I really wish that I had checked the details of the CoolWebSearch alert I got from Counterspy, but I was a bit jumpy I think, because I know that's a nasty one - so I deleted it, whereas I quarantined the other things.  I'll check on those later, and see if they really were problems...

My system currently has 1400 (or so) 'errors'.

Of course these include all the links to MS's missing help file features, encrypted links to applications (again an MS favourite trick in MS Office), dummy links to allow hooks to external tools in quite a few apps.

OK there are a lot of 'orphan' entried, but apart from making my registry larger they don't actually DO anything bad to my system.

Personally I feel life is too short to work through 1400 cryptic errors and a range of potential soutions. So maybe I should use the automatic fix options (usually just delete all and sundry) .... not on your life.

By all means fix errors that cause specific problems (if you have the expertise, and not many of us do - certainly not me) but you are probably best leaving well alone and asking for advice when a problem needs to be solved. The Micrsoft news groups are excellent for this with some very knowledgeable people who give freely of their time and energy.

The only thing I do these days is periodically I compact and defrag my registry, mainly because I am always installing and uninstalling stuff so the registry can get a bit inflated and scattered all over the hard disc with consequent system crawling ....

There are lots of utilities that will do that for you, an alternative method is to get a decent defrag program (such as Raxco's Perfect Disc) and then after a full defrag (including system files) backup and restore your registry using the MS backup tool in Windows XP or 2000. Chances are you will end woth a defragged registry.

jpfx

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 154
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Counterspy any good?
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2005, 05:39:25 PM »
my experiences with counterspy (and ms antispyware) have been very positive to the point where it has been the only program able to completely remove some spyware from a pc; adaware and spybot S&D failing miserably.
I tend to install it soon after os installation and I've not been plagued with huge numbers of 'errors'. It's a bit 'fat' but I'd call it the best of the bunch by a long margin.
       |\      _,,,---,,_         
ZZZzzz /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;, 
      |,4-  ) )-,_. ,\ (  `'-'    
     '---''(_/--'  `-'\_)

m_s

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 433
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Counterspy any good?
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2005, 05:48:58 PM »
I have had similar experience with MSAS.  It really is the price-tag that is going to decide this for me...  I run Spybot and Adaware and SpywareGuard and SpywareBlaster and Winpatrol Plus and XPAntiSpy, and I have recently started using a Hosts file too, so I guess I am pretty well protected, but I like the idea of having resident protection.  I think I am going to opt for MSAS because it's cheap.  That said, in the parallel thread I've opened over at Wilders Security, somebody just gave me a link to the CounterSpy's beta website, which is free to use, so I might try that...

Carol Haynes

  • Waffles for England (patent pending)
  • Global Moderator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 7,986
    • View Profile
    • Dales Computer Services
    • Donate to Member
Re: Counterspy any good?
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2005, 05:53:22 PM »
Good look - as I say be careful what ever you choose - and don't use automatic cleaning without thoroughly checking first !

m_s

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 433
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Counterspy any good?
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2005, 06:07:10 PM »
Thanks, Carol; I'll be careful!  Must say the beta looks better than the one I tried earlier in the day - including tick-boxes to switch off scanning of 'low risk' items and cookies.  Off to bed now...