Safer Networking's Spybot Search and Destroy, grabbed the second-place spot in a very tight race. Other finalists in this category were Webroot Software, Inc's Spy Sweeper Enterprise, PC Tools' Spyware Doctor and eTrust PestPatrol Anti-Spyware by Computer Associates International, Inc..
Lloyd Sutton, a technician with Boston-based Online Computers, Inc., a firm that services computers and networks, says he uses Ad-Aware SE on a daily basis.
''It's fast, easy-to-use and very thorough,'' says Sutton. ''It rates very highly in all of those categories, which none of the other competitors really do.''
Sutton says his company sees a lot of customers fighting off pop-ups, hijacked home pages and slow systems.
''Ad-Aware helps scan the system and remove the problems,'' he says. ''It makes our job a lot easier. Otherwise, we would have to do it all by hand.''
Malware removal solutions are becoming a critical tool for IT administrators as the amount of spyware hitting their systems continues to grow -- and the people behind the malicious software continue to grow in sophistication.
''The problem exploded in late 2003 and into 2004. It is at the top of the line for enterprises,'' says John Pescatore, vice president for Internet security at Gartner, Inc., a global IT analyst firm based in Stamford, Conn. Pescatore says Gartner's help desk clients report that 30 percent of the calls they receive these days are related to spyware.
Ad-Aware scans systems, including removable drives, for advertising spyware and removes the damaging code. It also protects users from parasites, scumware, Trojans, dialers, malware, browswer hijackers and tracking components.
Michael Wood, vice president of sales for Sweden-based Lavasoft's operations in the United States and Canada, says Ad-Aware SE stands out from the competition largely due to a few specific technologies, such as Code Sequence Identification (CSI), which picks up on code writers' styles and protects users from known threat variants.
It also uses the real-time protection of the Ad-Watch technology, which blocks suspicious processes and browser hijack attempts. The program also includes Process-Watch, which allows users to browse, scan and analyze processes.
The malware removal winner also scans for alternate data streams, and has a unique interface.
''It is viable, and easy to use [for anyone from] your grandmother to a system administrator,'' says Wood.
David Friedlander, a senior analyst with Forrester Research, Inc., a Cambridge, Mass.-based technology research company, says Ad-Aware SE's user accessibility drives its success.
''Not only are its detection capabilities very good, but it is also very easy for users to use,'' says Friedlander.
Pescatore says the Lavasoft product moved forward in areas that other spyware removal software hasn't.
''(Ad-Aware SE) is better at actually blocking the spyware, not just removing it after the fact,'' says Pescatore. ''It is also oriented toward enterprise manageability.''
For more information on adware protection and removal, visit Intranet Journal's Spyware Guide.