NAI’s McAfee the latest to add anti-spyware

Network Associates Inc. (NAI) will become the latest security software maker to address the growing problem of stealth surveillance software known as spyware when it announces a new consumer product for locating and removing the applications on Monday.

McAfee AntiSpyware will sell for US$39.95, including a one-year software update subscription. The product will compete in a growing field of commercial and free software that sniffs out legal and illegal programs that can log computer keystrokes, track Web browsing activity or give remote attackers full access to a computer hard drive, according to information from NAI.

Much like antivirus software, the new program scans a computer hard drive and compares its contents against a database of known spyware programs. Users can scan their hard disks for any spyware, or tailor a search to look for a specific application, NAI said.

McAfee AntiSpyware will also be able to autoprotect computers on which it is installed, spotting attempts to install spyware applications, the company said.

Many leading antivirus products, including McAfee Antivirus and Symantec Corp.’s Norton Antivirus, already scan incoming e-mail and computer hard drives for spyware in addition to computer viruses, but lack advanced features such as quarantining and protection against spyware file execution.

Those features are more common in specialized anti-spyware applications, which include free- and premium versions of Lavasoft AG’s Ad-aware and Pestpatrol from Pestpatrol Inc. One leading application, Spybot Search and Destroy, can be downloaded for free from the Web, with a donation to developer Patrick Kolla encouraged, but not required.

The new product comes amid warnings about increased use of spyware applications, which are often bundled with popular peer to peer (P-to-P) file-sharing programs like Kazaa and Grokster. In July, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission warned consumers about danger of installing spyware along with P-to-P applications and suggested installing anti-spyware programs before attempting to download P-to-P software.

In recent months, leading Internet service providers such as America Online Inc. and Earthlink Inc. announced deals with anti-spyware vendors to bundle their products with their software, allowing customers to detect and remove the applications.

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