Trend Micro Anti-Spyware 3.5 is the latest version of the program originally born of the once popular Intermute Spy Subtract product.
Boasting a simple, clean interface and solid real-time protection facilities, the program offers a number of cool add-ons and features that help in the fight against spyware threats. CWShredder, which was acquired by Trend Micro last year, is now integrated into the product to help remove CoolWebSearch variants.
The installation on our infected test system went off well, but a caveat to anyone using the product: the Trend Micro Anti-Spyware website makes a point of how the program updates itself frequently and automatically, but don't let this fool you.
The program doesn't update itself automatically during the installation process, nor are you prompted to update when you run the program for the first time. It was only after a little digging around that we noticed that our definition files were more than eight months out of date. A manual update remedied the issue, but it's worth noting, especially before scanning for the first time.
Trend Micro Anti-Spyware 3.5 made quick work of performing a full system scan, completing the process is just under 15 minutes - easily among the fastest of the programs around. The results of the scan were better than most, but not perfect by any stretch.
While the program did manage to detect and remove both keyloggers and our DNS issue, it left our browser hijack intact and missed some adware remnants. We were prompted to restart our system after opting to remove the threats, and found no traces on subsequent scans.
Black and white lists
Trend Micro Anti-Spyware 3.5 also includes both black list and white list facilities, enabling you to designate how detected items should be treated on future scans.
We assumed that we could add previously detected threats to our blacklist, but discovered that these must be added via a manual step prior to removal. Automatic additions to the blacklist based on scanning results would be a much better option.
Venus Spy Trap (the program's real-time protection facility) monitors everything from startup entries to hosts file changes, to file system changes for potential threats, and does a great job of it.
Trend Micro Anti-Spyware also enables a trickle scan feature by default, adjusting CPU usage while scanning to allow other processes to keep working. If you're the type who likes to scan and work simultaneously, this is a great bonus.
As for extras, Trend Micro Anti-Spyware 3.5 includes a built-in file shredder and a one-click privacy cleanup button to help you eliminate details such as browsing history, cookies and so forth.
Unlike many other programs, this version not only supports scheduled scanning, but also set up a scheduled scan job to occur once a week by default. Should help be required, online FAQs and UK-based phone support come to the rescue.
Unfortunately, there's no support for Windows Vista just yet, so only XP and Windows 2000 users need apply.