RealTime IT News

Microsoft Updates Anti-Spyware Beta -- Again

Microsoft this week released another update to the beta version of its anti-spyware tool.

The update to Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware, version 1.0.615, is the fourth from the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant since releasing the initial beta in January. Since then, there have been more than 21 million downloads, according to officials.

The updated beta corrects three issues affecting the software: the manner in which the program provides information about processes running on the PC; an issue, experienced by some users, around delivering updated anti-spyware definitions to the application; and new signature updates for recently identified spyware.

Similar to a virus signature , spyware signatures leave a distinguishable mark when they're used on a PC.

The new release is the first since Microsoft changed its stance on one of the biggest spyware vendors, Claria.

In the past, the company had recommended MSAS users to quarantine Claria's GAIN, Dashbar and DateManager applications. Earlier this month it was discovered Microsoft security officials changed their settings to ignore Claria's products, fueling speculation that Microsoft was looking to buy the company.

According to anti-spyware vendor Webroot, GAIN -- also called Gator, an adware program that displays banner advertisements based on Web surfing habits -- is one of the top 10 spyware threats on the Internet today.

Microsoft's change on how to identify Claria products is the result, the company said, of the security industry's confusion over how to identify spyware, adware and the like. Officials said work under way at the Anti-Spyware Coalition (ASC) will help the company, and others, find common criteria to apply to software that burrows its way into PCs.