Counter-spies on the LAN
For networked, enterprise-wide spyware and adware protection, both Computer Associates and Tenebril are strong contenders
SpyCatcher admins can exclude groups of pests from detection but cannot exclude a single pest as can PestPatrol can. Unlike PestPatrol, SpyCatcher allows admins to add suspicious or non-line-of-business files to the scanning database, which lets even non-spyware programs and files be detected and disabled. For example, if users are constantly playing Solitaire, administrators can add SOL.EXE as a custom fingerprint to the scanning database to disable it from all clients.
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I liked that I could set how much CPU time SpyCatcher would use during a client scan, something PestPatrol wouldn’t let me do. By throttling back CPU usage, I was able to run a scan on a client while it was in use without adversely impacting overall performance. On the downside, SpyCatcher was a bit of a memory hog. The two services installed on the client computer used roughly 34 MB of RAM, even when not running a scan.
Unlike PestPatrol, each SpyCatcher client is responsible for downloading its own updates from Tenebril, instead of using a single distributed download. Tenebril notes that the updates are small, usually only a few kilobytes, but multiply that by a hundred users, and precious bandwidth quickly starts to shrink. Clients check for updates on a predefined schedule or interactively from the management console.
SpyCatcher’s reporting features are better than PestPatrol’s, but not by much. In addition to text-formatted reports, SpyCatcher can save to CSV (comma separated values) files and in a form ready to import into SQL, although the latter takes some effort to set up. Administrators can have reports e-mailed to them using the same formats, or SpyCatcher will simply save them to disk. Reports can also be set to run on a variety of schedules.
Tenebril has the makings of a solid performer in SpyCatcher Enterprise. I like that it allows custom database definitions and that it can hide the client engine. Plus, the CPU throttle is a nice feature. If it had a better way to exclude specific entries and centralized database updating, it would be a real winner.
Still, a couple of rough edges should not keep anyone from considering this product. In my tests, PestPatrol emerged ahead by a nose due to its slightly more comprehensive results, but both solutions proved to be effective tools for keeping spyware and adware off enterprise networks.
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