I’m using Windows 7 Home Premium. I’m also using a trial version of
SUPERantispyware, which finds 60 or more threats every day or so because of
adware tracking cookies. I scan with Trend Titanium Maximum Security and
Malwarebytes and they don’t find a thing. Should I be concerned with the things
that SUPERantispyware is finding? Do I really need SUPERantispyware?
In this excerpt from
Answercast #68, I look at issues around privacy and tracking cookies from
advertising on websites.
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Lots of spyware programs
Let me answer that in the reverse order: do you need SUPERantispyware? I
honestly don’t know. It depends on what other anti-malware tools you have on
your machine and that you are running.
I have no direct experience with SUPERantispyware, but it has a good
reputation, I will say that. It’s not a tool that I would certainly say, “Run
away from.” It has a good reputation, and it’s one of the tools that may very
well be a solid part of someone’s anti-malware arsenal.
Baseline computer protection
What’s important though is that you have an anti-spyware tool and
an anti-malware tool, or potentially a combination of the two. I believe Trend
Titanium might actually qualify as a combination of the two.
If you have something already installed on your machine that is taking the
role of anti-spyware, you don’t really need to install something else in
addition to that unless you’re specifically fighting some kind of a
I run with Microsoft Security Essentials and only Microsoft Security
Essentials. That’s typically the baseline that I recommend for most people, for
Tracking cookies are kind of a rat’s nest in the sense that there’s a huge
diversity of opinion of whether or not they are something to be concerned
about. It’s a fact that it is “opinion” and not hard “yes-and-no”s, that
makes this a difficult topic to address.
The fact is: tracking cookies are simply about advertisers tracking your
actions on the internet.
Right away, that scares a lot of people. But what they need to realize is
that you’re not being tracked as an individual. The data might be tracking your
individual movements, but nobody’s looking at you as an individual. You are
just not that interesting. I’m not that interesting.
Seeing more relevant advertising
So for people who hold the mindset where we understand that
tracking cookies are basically used to deliver more relevant, more targeted
advertising to us as we browse the internet, it’s not that big of a deal.
That’s apparently the approach that things like Trend Titanium or
Malwarebytes may be taking. Or, they have an option that’s set to basically
ignore things like tracking cookies. Tracking cookies are not
something that I personally worry about. I’m sure I’ve got a ton of them on my
machine and it’s just not an issue.
Invasion of privacy
Now, the other side of the coin is: there are people who feel that tracking
cookies are an invasion of privacy. They are collecting information about your
movements on the internet; the sites you visit. Like I said, nobody’s looking
at it at an individual level – and yet it is theoretically possible that data
could be kept allowing them to do so.
We just don’t know. So the fact is, it can be seen as some kind of an
invasion of privacy.
For those folks who feel that way, then yes, tracking cookies are an issue.
In a case like that, SUPERantispyware is reflecting the correct report; there
are tracking cookies.
Tracking cookies come back
As you’ve noted, they come back almost immediately. As soon as you start
browsing the internet, as soon as you start browsing sites that have
advertising, your machine will have tracking cookies on it.
You can have your browser disallow certain types of tracking cookies, but
there will still be other kinds of tracking cookies that are left on your
machine. Unfortunately, you just can’t block all cookies; that doesn’t
work because too many websites these days require cookies to work.
It’s how many websites remember the fact that you’re logged on when you go
from one page to the next. Imagine having to login every time you click to open
a message in your email program. It just doesn’t make sense. It’s cookies that
are the primary technology that’s used to make the internet a viable place, an
easy place to maneuver around in and to work around in.
So, what it really boils down to is your own personal level of comfort with
the kinds of things I’ve talked about. Like I said, it’s not something I worry
about and I would not be at all concerned about a tool telling me about
I personally would be annoyed at the tool for bugging me with tracking
cookies when I don’t consider them an issue. On the other hand, if you feel
that they are an issue, then it’s something you would want your tools to tell