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  Utility: Ad-aware  


Viruses are clearly a big waste of everyone's time. A little less annoying are adware, spyware, and scumware. These programs hide information on your computer and periodically send information to someone on the net. One of the more benign cases is sending marketing information about you. At least one more extreme case involved stealing CPU cycles from your computer to perform someone else's calculations.

The October 7, 2002 Time magazine had a moderately interesting article about these programs. The best part of the article is its recommendation that you check out the free Ad-aware program that removes these programs. I tried it and it was relatively painless. Spyware isn't as bad as a virus but it's still annoying.

One person wondered why virus protection programs such as McAfee and Norton don't check for adware. Here's a note from McAfee's Web site.

If spyware is placed on your computer using a cookie, Privacy Service can block the cookie. However, if spyware is placed on your computer during a program download, then it will not be blocked. McAfee.com services do not detect spyware after it has already been installed on your computer.
Here's a note from Symantec's Web site. This page also has a pretty good description of the most common types of adware and spyware.
By design, Symantec Security Response does not provide virus definitions to detect joke, adware, or spyware programs. Such programs are not malicious, and detecting them only leads to unnecessary virus alerts, which could cause you to believe that you have run or received a dangerous program when you have not. If you have received or installed such a program, and you do not want to run it, we suggest that you uninstall or delete it.

Here are comments about Ad-aware that I got from newsletter subscribers. I'm presenting them anonymously so no one is embarrassed by the hundreds of naughty picture links they found ;-) Many thanks to all who replied!


Funnily enough, I just installed this software recently. On my system, it picked up a few cookies which I wiped, and found one application using the Cydoor advert system which I knew about. It also found one registry key for a spyware system I knew nothing about called Alexa, which I found interesting, as the final registry key was a GUID so you wouldn't recognise it, and it was cunningly hidden inside Windows Explorer's registry settings, perhaps trying to hide from where you would normally look for such things. As a rule I will not allow spyware or advert software on my computer. Of course, when there is an exception, my software firewall (ZoneAlarm Professional) doesn't allow these apps to send the stolen information out anyway :)

First time I ran ad aware ( about 9 months ago) I caught something in between 30-40 instances of spyware. Now, I am not a huge surfer or downloader, don't hang out at winmx, or warez, or napster or the like.

I was just getting into CIS studies, and was/am just leaning VB, and had downloaded some trial version flowcharting software, discovered gfi.com, langa list, and adaware. I think I had downloaded realplayer (big offender - now gone) but that was it. For the most part everything I downloaded was education or business oriented. My machine was still polluted with spyware.

I know one folder is Qualcomm's from Eudora, as I run the free version, I accept that as a price for running the free version of Eudora, When I went to try opera they added their own spyware. (Another program now gone from my system)

Before I learned about spyware and shutting down processes, I couldn't figure out why my old P-133 was so slow......it would take over a minute to open NOTEPAD!! It was all spyware! robbing my poor CPU>

Once I learned about adaware and ran it on my new system, I realized that much of what adaware had found and removed were programs I had seen running on my old system, and didn't have a clue what they were .

I've been using Ad-Aware for over a year now, and it has been a great help. It's removed such programs as Gator, Casino-On-Net, CometCursor, and spywear from GoZilla!, and I have yet to see any problems with the actual software. Now, while I know that some people might think that Ad-Aware is installing spywear of its own, there is no factual information to back up these claims. That isn't to say that we shouldn't be on the lookout for such a threat, as it would be a folly to do so. On the plus side, however, Ad-Aware has gotten rid of a great deal of ads and junk programs that accumulated on my computer, and I run it every week or so to keep up to date. LavaSoft regularly releases updates for the database of files noted by Ad-Aware, and an external program, called LavaSoft RefUpdate, allows you to quickly update these files. (It's available at: www.lavasoft.nu, along with the actual Ad-Aware program) In closing I'd like to say that, while some people may always be skeptical of new things, Ad-Aware is a great program, and it's one that no internet user should be without.
I gave a try to lavasoftusa's Ad-ware (Spyware) and it captured 13 programs from my system, in no time at all.
Found 8 different programs.
The following may be more info than you wanted Rod. The first time I ran the program (10/10) it found 10 items, 9 of which were related to Earthlink and which I supposedly removed. The second time I ran the program (10/12) it found 4 items, all related to Earthlink and which I removed. The third time I ran the program (also on 10/12) it found no items.

I haven't used Earthlink for 6 months so I don't know why the first run of 10/12 found 4 Earthlink items. However, some of the Earthlink application files are still on my hard disk.

I have been using Ad-Aware for about 2 years now, on many different machines. I have had no bad experiences with it. I download and test a lot of software, so the first time I ran it, it found a lot of stuff. Now, however, it typically on finds "cookie" files that it doesn't like. I let it delete those, and then continue on my merry way. On a couple of occasions, when a new version has been released that identifies new "spyware", it has found those. It would be nice if there was "better" information about each of the items it finds (sometimes it finds things in the registry that look like they should be there, so I have to hunt around until I can determine what they are for), but otherwise it is quite good.

My only complaint with is that the "RefUpdate" program (used to update the "reference list" seems to have a hard time connecting/finding reference files. Some days it works like a champ, other days I have to many of the servers before it will actually connect and determine whether or not a new reference file exists.

Been using Ad Ware for few months, it does catch a few known spyware cookies and registry entries. These days, I surf the minimum, Internet getting to be a dangerous place. Caught couple of warms going to places like www.sears.com, which means servers do get infected. Luckily I use eTrust antivirus, which is very fast catching a virus, much faster than Mcaffee or Norton.
I've been using Ad-Aware for over a year and have been quite happy with its ability to ferret out spyware, adware, undesired cookies, etc. I was originally introduced to it, IIRC, from the Lockergnome newsletter sometime around Spring of 2001. It has gone through one major and several minor versions since then, and I've never heard from any source that it might itself be spyware. I also use ZoneAlarm, which changes its display to show in/out bound traffic. I just ran Ad-Aware and didn't notice it "calling home" during the process. Certainly not proof, of course, but a reasonable indication.

Interestingly, during this run A-A found that I now have Alexa (??). I know that I didn't install it; however, I did upgrade to IE 6.0 on this machine recently. I Googled "IE 6.0 Alexa" and found that the upgrade and SP1 added the key to the registry. Rather strange behavior from MS, IMHO. I was also interested to find that, of the nine components found, there were *seven* that had to do with "sexlist" or "sextracker." I have no idea where these came from, but since I use Pop-Up Stopper from Panicware (highly recommended, BTW), it's possible that these were placed by blocked pop-ups that I never actually viewed. The last component was the ubiquitous doubleclick cookie. Ad-Aware did its duty and cleaned everything up for me. Note that it only found nine components on this run because I use it fairly regularly. I recall my first run, where it found 35 or so components, including adware programs (which I eliminated, of course).

In summary, my experience and understanding indicate that Ad-Aware is a legitimate, effective tool for combating scumware on your machine. My only gripe is that (as of ver. 5.62) there is no way to schedule it to run other than at Windows startup. That's easily solved using the Windows Task Scheduler, however, so it's a really minor issue. I recommend it to all my friends.

I've used this application for over a year and couldn't be more happy with it. It seems to catch all sorts of spyware, ad-ware, etc.

I have never received any spam from them nor do they install their own spyware. They are really as good as they seem.

I've not used any of their other products.

As I tried the Adware removable program & got surprising result, I would like to let you know.

That program detected 131 suspicious items from my computer(x_x), and successfully deleted all. I checked all of them before clicking 'remove', and those were all fishy... after removing those, I don't get stupid popup-AD so far.

Back in May I purchased a copy of Internet Magazine, a large size magazine that comes with a CD loaded with various internet applications. In the magazine and on the CD was Ad-aware. I used it and continue to use the free version from time to time to clean my system of pop-up, etc. It seems to work for me and has not caused me any known problems.
Thanks for your continuing excellent NewsLetter and you tip regarding Ad-Aware.

I installed it and found 41 Registry entries and 18 programs and what a difference it makes to the speed of my system! Incredible!

One file was a nasty and had to be removed from the DOS prompt (Locked by Windows) It was in the Windows\System directory and called IEHelper.dll and I guess it's been helping to slow my system down for some time now!

One checkmark under 'none' for me.

No surprise, I always lock up my workstations pretty tight, even those already behind a firewall (Opera instead of ie, restrictive settings, Tiny Personal Firewall to ensure ie can't connect, WebWasher, SpamWeasel and NoHTML, and, of course, awareness). Never been surprised by a virus on my own machines even though I don't run AV software.

Here's what Ad-aware found on my computer. I can't remove any components because I still want to use the software that installed them.

Scanning finished
Suspicious modules found:0
Suspicious keys found : 7
Suspicious folders found:2
Suspicious files found:11
Components ignored:0
Total components found:20

I ran the Ad-Ware software and found 5 cookies(files) and 1 registry entry. All this on a new machine (5 days usage).
Since you asked, AdAware caught 102 programs, registry entries, dll's etc. Thanx for the tip
Downloaded the program and it found 5 on my PC
0 suspicious files

1 suspicious registry entry (Alexa) .. deleted

For me, it caught 6 cookies and 1 suspicious folder that was for ads in Eudora mail.
2 spyware found
Scanning finished
Suspicious modules found:0
Suspicious keys found : 2
Suspicious folders found:0
Suspicious files found:9
Components ignored:0
Total components found:11

Scanning finished
Suspicious modules found:0
Suspicious keys found : 2
Suspicious folders found:0
Suspicious files found:35
Components ignored:0
Total components found:37

Scanning finished
Suspicious modules found:0
Suspicious keys found : 32
Suspicious folders found:1
Suspicious files found:16
Components ignored:0
Total components found:49

Examen complété
Modules suspects trouvés:0
Clés suspectes trouvées:19
Dossiers suspects trouvés:0
Fichiers suspects trouvés:20
Mouchards ignorés:0
Total des mouchards trouvés:39

[Cool, it's even internationally aware!]

Was in a class and one of my classmates mentioned that he was going to have to reformat the HD on a friends computer, evidently the puter visited a XXX site, and "something" stayed on so every time the guy booted, up popped these nifty XXX images, nothing they had done worked yet. they were desperate.......

I promptly downloaded adaware, handed him the floppy and suggested he run that first, next class he handed it back and said it worked, in fact it worked so well, he put it on his system and his mothers too. The friend is convinced I am some genius.... little does he know, I am back to fighting with sequential and RA files....


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