Spyware Control Moving Center Stage

Spyware is software that’s typically downloaded from a web session, and which monitors what a user does. Spyware can be very malicious, as when it reports IDs and passwords; or it can be relatively benign.

During 2004, a growing set of cottage industry vendors have provided tools to detect and fix spyware. Examples are XoftSpy and AdAware. We’re still at very early stages of spyware control technology. Eg, there’s no agreement on classifications of spyware, no independent product testing, no standard APIs allowing for files to be checked by third party anti-spyware filters, and vendors don’t share information. It’s all a bit like the early days of virus control.

There’s a long-term market here. Just as we all have virus controls in place, so by 2007, all organizations will have spyware controls in place.

Who will the leading anti-spyware vendors be? Today’s leading anti-virus vendors seem natural candidates. Among the big three–Symantec, Network Associates/McAfee, and Trend Micro–I guess Symantec is likely to be best placed. Trend Micro is likely to have the hardest time delivering good solutions. To illustrate, consider Symantec Client Security and Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition, both of which are having their anti-spyware capabilities continuously improved.

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