I truly hate that it has come to this. Lavasoft's Ad-aware used to be a fine product. Not only was it the only free solution for finding and destroying advertising spyware, it was also a good program. However, Lavasoft has abandoned Ad-aware 5.83. Support is still offered at their support forums and via email, but the program is no longer being updated to handle new spyware targets. In fact, I feel that it is necessary to recommend to everyone that they simply remove Ad-aware version 5 entirely. Using it in its current, unupdated form can be, and has been proven to be dangerous.
Ad-aware has not had a reference file update since September 24. I've personally submitted over a dozen new spyware/hijacker targets and lord knows how many updates to old spyware/hijackers. Other developers on my private mailing list update when new targets are submitted to them. Lavasoft has not.
Take Common Name for example. I sent out a special alert about this and even asked all of my readers to post the warning on various message boards about how Common Name can damage your internet connection when removed improperly (thank you for doing that). It is a very dangerous piece of software if you remove it wrong, and thankfully most people took the warnings seriously.
Lavasoft did nothing to update its removal routines for the Common Name toolbar to protect its users. This means that using Ad-aware in its current state to remove CommonName Toolbar will leave you without an internet connection. This is not theory, it is fact. I've seen it happen to people.
Lavasoft has stated numerous times that the current version will not be further updated so that the next version 6 can be developed. Version 6 is now three and half weeks overdue, with no explanation of why it is not out yet, or any estimate of when it will be released.
Consider this for a moment. What if your anti-virus product suddenly stopped updating its detection files for months on end? What if dozens of new virii were released in the wild, and older virii mutated? You are stuck unprotected by a product that now cannot work properly. Would you demand your money back?
Are you one of the many who shelled out $15 USD for Ad-aware Plus so that you could have real-time protection against spyware installation? I don't know what Lavasoft's refund policy is, but personally I'd be looking it up if I had purchased this abandoned product.
Don't bother going to their support forums to complain about it. They have now made it a policy to delete postings which they do not like. They deleted posts by the founder of Comet Cursor in a running thread asking how to get Comet Cursor removed as a target. A representative of Spyware Nuker (see below) not only had his posts deleted, they actually banned his IP address from the boards. They've even had the gall to delete some of my posts, and I used to be an administrator there. It makes you wonder what Lavasoft has to hide that they have to delete posts and ban the posters like that. Several moderators and administrators have resigned in disgust over this practice, myself included.
For these reasons, SpywareInfo will no longer host, mirror, or provide links to any Lavasoft software. I cannot endorse a product which could wreak havoc on the users system simply because the company refuses to update it.
There are four main alternatives for spyware detection and removal which I recommend. For removing advertising spyware, I recommed either the free Spybot S&D, or the $29.95 Aluria Spyware Eliminator.
For removing surveillance spyware, keyloggers, and password stealing trojans, I recommend either the $69.95 Spycop, or the $39.95 X-Cleaner.
Please note that all of those except Spybot are affiliates. Purchasing them using the links provided will generate a commission for SpywareInfo. This has nothing to do with their recommendation here. Spybot is the most highly recommended of the four.
It seems that the publicity about this matter prompted Lavasoft to release a response several hours after this newsletter was released. While it's sad that it took this sort of publicity to elicit a response from them after so long, at least they are now admitting that the current version cannot be used for many recent spyware/hijackware programs.
It has become apparent that many people are concerned with the lack of updates for Ad-aware 5.83. We acknowledge this and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. The reasons for this are as follows:
1) The 5x engine is old and to keep ahead of our target base needs to be replaced. Are we saying it is bad or ineffective? No. But to effectively and safely remove many new targets and those older ones, which have changed/mutated, we would need to do a major upgrade of 5.83 and it’s reference file as well.
2) The 5x engine (in its current configuration) cannot handle many of the new targets correctly. As stated in #1, the entire Ad-aware executable would need to be rewritten.
3) We have been hard at work on that very upgrade, but where this is different is in WHAT we are upgrading to. As many of you already know, we are/were working on version 6. It is an entirely new application; more powerful, expandable, configurable, and to be quite honest, light years ahead of version 5.83. We decided that any further upgrades beyond 5.83 would be more of a waste of time than productive as the coding work for version 6 was already underway. We therefore decided to place all of our efforts into the new version.
4) As with any endeavor started from scratch, we ran into several delays and complications as proposed features didn’t work correctly or were not compatible with the new version. We apologize for the delays but they were unavoidable.
We are however notifying you (our customers and the general public) that we have entered into the late stages of beta testing. Except for some minor polishing and some last minute initial bug fixes, we are nearly done and should be ready to release Ad-aware 6 to our customers mid January 2003 and to our freeware users at the beginning of February 2003. Please be patient and we are confident that when you see what we have to offer you will understand AND appreciate the time taken to make it the best solution available!