Ousting The Bugs

According to a new survey by Consumer Reports National Research Center, viruses and spyware have cost computer owners and estimated $7.8 billion in the past two years alone.

Consumer Reports has just tested the latest software safeguard programs.

The researchers created 5,500 viruses created in order to test the effectiveness of antivirus software. The viruses were quarantined on a CD to maintain tight security during testing.

Consumer Reports' Dean Gallea says, "That computer was never connected to any other computer or the Internet. And we worked in a virtual environment which was erased immediately after testing."

Consumer Reports tested a dozen antivirus protection programs to see whether they could detect and block new viruses. Testers found big differences in detection rates.

Gallea says, "Some products did really well detecting the viruses just by scanning them. Other products had to wait until the viruses activated. And some couldn't do well at either."

On another computer, Consumer Reports tested 12 software programs designed to protect against spyware which can also harm your computer.

Gallea loaded the computer with programs that simulate 17 kinds of spyware, "For example, this one locks your homepage on your browser. This one sets your homepage to one you don't want."

No one program could eliminate all the spyware but some proved better than others

Consumer Reports says a good choice is Zone Alarm Internet Security Suite for $70. It offers good protection against both viruses and spyware.

In addition, testers recommend Spybot Search and Destroy to, a free spyware program, to give you added protection.

At $25, Webroot's Spy Sweeper is another good choice.

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