'Anti-spyware tools not yet up to snuff'

Major security vendors have entered the anti-spyware fray and the products are improving, but the technology to battle spyware and adware is not up to snuff, according to Wes Ames, computing security architect at The Boeing Co.

"I would say that we have reached a midlevel of maturity on adware and spyware, not on the countermeasures, mind you," Ames said in a presentation at the Computer Security Institute conference in Washington.

The products to battle the unwanted software are not in a mature state and buyers should be aware of that, he said. One pain point is spyware naming, one vendor might warn of a certain piece of spyware, which another company's tool will also detect, but under a completely different name, Ames said.

"Folks in the antispyware world don't talk to each other enough. Antivirus is a small and fairly close knit crowd and they share their data. In the antispyware world, it is not there yet," he said. "So certainly the products aren't there yet either."

Spyware fighters have started an initiative to define spyware, called the Anti-Spyware Coalition.

Boeing has tens of thousands of desktops and does run anti-spyware software on those, along with antivirus and firewall software, but Ames did not say which product his company uses.

Most anti-spyware products do a decent job, but the products vary in terms of functionality. Tenebril, for example, stands out for its behavioral detection, Ames said. Other products might appeal to an organization because they integrate well with management tools, McAfee and its ePpolicy Orchestrator, for example, he said.

Looking into the future, Ames sees the firewall as the ideal place to check for spyware. "If you are removing it from your computer, you already have it on your system. If you can block it at the firewall, more power to you," he said.



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