I'm not going to mention any real names in this article (to protect the innocent as well as to protect the innocent (me) against the guilty), but if you've been keeping up, you know that right now, the highest rated spyware removal program, according to the most well-known reviewers and reviewing sites is one I'll call "Product A". It has, at least for the past 4-5 months, consistently gotten among the highest detection, removal, defense and ease-of use scores, and the highest overall. I have little doubt that most of you have also heard of "Product B", "Product C", "Product D" and "Product E" as well, as rounding out the top 5.

So how come my eyes fell on a tiny little adsense ad asking the pointed question "Which Spyware Remover?", with a subtitle saying they tested and rated 5 antispyware programs. Remembering that I had just posted an article about spyware program beat-downs, I couldn't help but to follow the link and see what I was going to find, and I was not surprised in the least. If the top 5 rated programs are Products A through E, then this bad boy has to be labeled "Product R" or something. I happen to do a lot of cruising around looking up this kind of software, and I have never heard of this one, nor have I ever seen it listed in what I would consider the more legitimate reviews.

So, what they did is a side-by-side review of 5 programs (actually, there were 6, so I guess counting is a challenge for them too). One was Product A, and you'd have recognized four of the others, but the sixth was this Product R. First, there was a picture of some guy I'll call Cyrus; big, toothy grin like he's going to tell you all about it. He starts out calling himself "us" and "we" (apparently to make himself seem like a company, which is OK if he wants to do that).

Now, I'm trying to keep from laughing as I note that they made Product R better, faster, easier to use, etc. than Product A, which was always second or third. Then, I guess to make it look more legit, they admitted that Product A has more objects in it's detection database (by about thirty thousand), yet Product R detected and removed 93% of infections, compared to 86% for Product A. I found it strange (but not surprising) that after every paragraph there was a button AND a link to download a free trial of Product R; strange because this is usually not the case in "reviews". Needless to say, Product R was the Editor's Choice, even though no other review I have ever read has ever even mentioned it. My lips are hurting trying to hold back laughter as I tried my best to determine what version the program is. I even went to the manufacturer's site, and to the ordering page; nothing. I finally managed to ferret out that it was version 8.7! Just when I was ready to give it the benefit of just being a new program that does what it does really, really well; but if it's version is nearly up to 9, and the real top two rated programs are at version's 4 and 5, well, what's a person to think? Still, the program has apparently not been updated in something like 10 months, so you KNOW I can't wait to give this thing charge of protecting my computer! Now with eyes watering, nose running and lips quivering to hold back laughter, I see that they point out that Product A runs a full scan on their test machine in something like 2.5 hours, compared to Product R, which does a full scan in 11 minutes! I'm thinking, "full scan of what? A Zip disk?"

Finally, I couldn't hold it anymore; I burst out laughing so hard I sprayed my monitor screen with "moisture". I just can't believe someone has the effrontery to actually pump this stuff. The "testimonials" were even more laughable, and strangely, all 20 or so seemed to be written with the same basic writing style, though these people were from different states; even different countries.

I'm sure you've figured out by now that this so-called "review" was nothing more than a cheap shot of an advertisement for what is very likely a re-branded lump of schlock. I think this, because the manufacturer listed with the ad is entirely different from the one listed in another place where I managed to find this same lump of schlock. I took it as the online version of the same kind of thing the friend I mentioned in the previous post had to deal with. Funniest thing I'd seen online all week.

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Hehe, that touched a nerve here as I run a spyware reviews lab here in the UK for PC Pro magazine and am responsible for reviewing anti-spyware software both in standalone and labs/group test format.

One of my real bug bears, because it is so wrong and becuase it results in more work for me answering emails from readers who think I am some numb-nuts newbie who knows nothing becuase they got screwed, is the way the scammers pretend to be the leading application by using a very similar name, often in paid for search engine ads as you say, and then use a 'free' evaluation version to discover thousands of bits of malware which can only be removed if you cough up the cash and buy the app. Of course, the fact that you also get an additional payload of the thing installing malware of its own is just the icing on the cake.

Trouble is, people are running so scared of the malware menace, and on the whole are far too trusting of anyone claziming to be in the security business, that they fall for this stuff every single day.

One wonders it the likes of Google should take more active responsibility in policing their keyword ad placement systems to prevent the bad guys from getting away with it?

Yep, I agree, this kind of thing makes it harder for the legitimate reviews/reviewers to be taken seriously. It also makes it harder for legitimate, but new, software to get taken seriously. I almost always tell people to go to a few reputable sites and find reviews of software like this instead of relying on ads and popups to make decisions.
I guess I am just a victim of wondering why, after all this time, so many people just don't know any more about protecting themselves than they did 5 years or more ago.

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