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Eugene Kaspersky and his wife, Natalie, are some of the leading minds in antivirus research, and they make a well respected antivirus product.

However, this article shows the odd thinking of not only Eugene, but the rest of the antivirus industry (sorry Eugene, I have huge respect for you, but in this you’re off the mark).

He makes astounding claims like this one: “”The term spyware is basically a marketing gimmick…Just to separate new ersatz-security products from traditional ones, just to push almost zero-value products to the security market.”

The AV industry has sat by the sidelines as the spyware problem has EXPLODED. The big players, lazy and fat from subscription revenues off the vast profits from their huge, unwieldy, bug-ridden suites have completely missed the real problems of the users.

Viruses are a threat. But they come out maybe once every few weeks. Easy for an AV company to stay on top of the problem. New spyware comes out HOURLY.

The AV guys think that “dat” files can handle the problem of spyware. That is so incomprehensibly wrong thinking that it baffles the mind. Try to get rid of CoolWebSearch or VX2/Transponder with a few definition files. Forget it. You need code to remove this stuff. And it’s not easy.

The term “spyware”, obviously, is a broad term encompassing lots of different categories of malware. Really, what people mean when they say spyware is “adware”. Stuff that loads your machine up with junk ads, turns it into the equivalent of an electronic toaster, and makes your life hell.

True, I remember the early days of antispyware programs, where alarms would practically go off if they found a cookie (cookies are fairly benign). One could argue that was snake oil type selling. But now the problem is real. There are vast amounts of infested, crashy, buggy machines, loaded with junk like CoolWebSearch and plenty of other stuff.

The problem is this: Antivirus programs are a commodity (“a mass-produced unspecialized product Merriam-Webster). As a vendor like Sunbelt, you can shop for AV technologies out there on the open market and pick them up for next to nothing.

Spyware, as we can see from these test results, is vastly different. It’s till proprietary technology. Enormous amounts of research are required to battle spyware. For the most part, it still takes two different programs at least to completely get rid of a spyware infestation.

So the AV guys don’t get it, which is bad for the users, but good for the antispyware vendors.

Alex Eckelberry