In which Mangetout limply whines about spyware...

Spyware eh? nuisance, but you can just install SpyBot or AdAware (or both), delete a few cookies, bish, bosh, boot and no more spyware (for a while). What could be simpler?

Up until today, the above was the sum total of my experience and opinion regarding spyware.

Everything has changed.

I’ve spent the whole day cleaning a machine at the London office of a company I support; the report was that the machine was a little unstable and was trying to dial up when it wasn’t supposed to.

OK, so the dialing thing was a bit of a giveaway, but I also spotted some ‘browser enhancements’. So I uninstalled (using the Control Panel applet) everything that looked a little suspect, then I installed AdAware and it identified and removed 70+ objects (representing probably about two dozen distinct varieties of spyware), but the problems were still there, so I installed SpyBot, which found and deleted nearly 200 suspect objects… I have never seen the like of it.

But the problem didn’t go away; after rebooting, some of the removed stuff had reinstalled itself, I went the manual route and deleted some registry entries, program files and the like, but there was still a persistent problem with the machine attempting to dial up.

In the end, it turned out to be (among other things) a DLL file belonging to - I couldn’t delete it, because ‘Windows is using it’ - I couldn’t unregister it, as it returned an error.

DOS boot time, deleted the offending DLL files, rebooted, everything works (although there is inexplicably still a MySomethingOrOtherLovelyHelper toolbar in IE, despite me having deleted all of the registry keys and files that are reportedly responsible for it).

I’ve wasted an entire day of my time and held up the work of the user, just because of this insidious, shoddy practice.

Too lame for the pit, sorry…

Spyware is evil. Did you know there’s some spyware that even infects the host computer’s tcp/ip stacks? Fun!

In addition to AdAware and SpyBot, you might also look into something called SpywareBlaster.