The Spyware Warrior Guide to

The State of Adware Detections

  1 Aug. 2005
5 Oct. 2005 Updated

With targeting criteria and policy choices among anti-spyware vendors playing an increasingly important role in the performance of anti-spyware applications, consumers might find it useful to compare the detections among anti-spyware applications for a handful of better known advertising software programs, several of which have lately proven "controversial." What follows is a menu of tables that summarize how programs from eight different advertising software vendors are detected by twelve of the more reputable, established anti-spyware applications.

Please keep in mind that these summaries present detections only -- removals have not been tested at all. Thus, these summaries are not tests of the effectiveness of the twelve anti-spyware applications selected for these summary pages. Moreover, since the purpose of these summaries is to shed light on the targeting and policy differences among anti-spyware vendors, the adware applications selected are not the most onerous programs currently afflicting users (e.g., CoolWebSearch, Aurora, etc.) -- programs that every anti-spyware vendor would be expected to target.

Although it is anticipated that these pages will be updated from time to time, no update schedule has been established. 

Menu of Detection Summaries
  At the present time, we have assembled detection summaries for eight advertising software vendors:
  1. 180solutions
  2. AskJeeves
  3. Claria
  4. Hotbar
  5. IBIS
  7. Weatherbug
  8. WhenU
  Note on Oct.2005  testing: The original round of tests conducted at the end of July and beginning of August 2005 included applications from six adware vendors. For the October round of tests, applications from two more vendors were added: 1) IBIS Websearch and Crawler toolbars; 2)'s client application and QuickSearch toolbar. Also, the application mix for 180solutions was expanded to include several new applications.
Anti-Spyware Applications Used
  The twelve anti-spyware applications used for these summaries include:
  • CA Pest Patrol
  • FBM ZeroSpyware
  • Lavasoft Ad-aware SE
  • McAfee AntiSpyware (note: not VirusScan)
  • Microsoft AntiSpyware
  • PC Tools Spyware Doctor
  • Spybot Search & Destroy
  • Sunbelt CounterSpy
  • Tenebril SpyCatcher
  • TrendMicro AntiSpyware (formerly Spy Subtract)
  • Webroot Spy Sweeper
  • XBlock X-Cleaner

For more information on these programs, please see this features comparison page.

Questions, Comments...
  If you have questions or comments about any of the data on these pages, please don't hesitate to get in touch:

Full Disclosure: since late November 2004 I have performed part-time consulting work as an independent contractor for Sunbelt Software, makers of CounterSpy. Because of that relationship and the conflict of interest that it represents, I must recuse myself from public comment on CounterSpy. That means that I cannot and will not publicly evaluate, test, or even recommend Sunbelt's anti-spyware product. The anti-spyware products that I do recommend, all of which are competitors to CounterSpy, are included here.


Copyright 2005 Eric L. Howes