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Microsoft releases antispyware, malware-removal tools

Users and analysts said the releases were long overdue

January 6, 2005 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Microsoft Corp.'s introduction today of two free security tools designed to help users get rid of spyware and other malicious code is a long-overdue move from a company whose software is the biggest target of attacks on the Internet, users and analysts said.
The release of the two new tools also puts the company one step closer to direct competition with the industry's major security vendors, they said.
As expected, Microsoft released a beta version of its Windows AntiSpyware tool, which is based on technology acquired with its purchase last month of Giant Company Software Inc. in New York.
The software is available as a free download from Microsoft's Web site and is designed to help users detect, block and clean up spyware from infected systems, said Amy Carroll, director of Microsoft's security business and technology unit. The software is available for Microsoft Windows 2000 and later versions.
No decision has yet been made on whether Microsoft will continue to make the tool available for free download or whether it will eventually start charging for it, Carroll said. But there will be at least one more free beta version before general release of a formal antispyware tool, she said.
Microsoft this morning also released a malicious-software-removal tool designed to scan and clean up infected PCs of worms, viruses and other malicious code. The tool consolidates a series of tools that Microsoft has shipped since January 2004, each targeting a single virus, worm or variants, including Blaster, Mydoom and Download.Ject.
The tool, available through Windows Update, is based on technology that Microsoft acquired from its 2003 purchase of Romanian antivirus software maker GeCAD Software. Microsoft plans to update the product with new virus signatures every month along with its monthly patches, Carroll said.
Microsoft's release of an antispyware tool is overdue, said Russ Cooper, editor of the NTBugTraq newslist and an analyst at Herndon, Va.-based TruSecure Corp. "I think it's about time. Its taken a long time for Microsoft to acknowledge that what's been happening to PCs in terms of Trojans and spyware is a result of mechanisms built into Internet Explorer" designed to add functionality, he said.
Microsoft's move "really demonstrates how big of a problem spyware has become," said Andrew Plato, president of Anitian Enterprise Security, a systems integration and consulting firm in Beaverton, Ore.
It will help give security managers "more pull" when they seek funds for antispyware tools from upper management, said Jarrad Winter, network security manager at the Western United Insurance Co. in Irvine, Calif. "Now that Microsoft is publicly making it known that this



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