Spyware is the buzzword of the IT world at the moment with everyone trying to pick up the paranoid pounds with extra software to plug the gaps. We take a closer look at Tenebril’s SpyCatcher, a dedicated spyware protection package.

As the box usefully points out, spyware is any application that tracks your online activity and then does a range of things from the boring to the malicious - it might deliver your viewing habits to a marketing company, or provide your online banking keystrokes to a hacker. When the big spyware headlines broke about 12 months ago, most people were surprised to find they had some - myself included.

There are one-stop shops online that will scan your computer for you, but it’s not really a consistent approach. Microsoft have their spyware beta available for download, so you have to look at the £25 price tag and decide if it’s worth it. However, SpyCatcher is a very complete solution, and very sophisticated one at that, forming part of the GhostSurf package. Sharp shoppers will realise they can pick up Ghostsurf for £18 from Amazon, rather than the usual £35.

SpyCatcher will scan at start-up and constantly monitor your system to keep you protected. The level of customisation will appeal to those who want more control, as you can set exactly what you want it to detect, or not. For example, it can block cookies, but you might not want it to. You can say which spyware you want to leave on your system. There is also protection against a home page hijack in your browser, which can be a real pain in the backside when it happens.

SpyCatcher keeps abreast of the latest threats with online updates, and can be scheduled to do so automatically like any virus scanner. It also does a good job of destroying spyware if it appears - it will not only uninstall spyware, but uses “military-level” cleaning to ensure it can’t reinstall. At any point you can have a look at everything that is being monitored, and will probably find you have a lot more running than you originally thought.

Price when reviewed:

Overall, you can’t help but be happy with the software - even delving into some key spyware hotspots, such as “free” MP3 websites, we were totally protected. Of course, you need to have decent virus protection and a firewall for the complete online security solution. Look carefully at what you already have, because software providers have no problem selling you something you don’t need! Even if you shouldn’t rely on one single spyware killer, any others can be downloaded for free. However, SpyCatcher’s a great bit of software.