Eliminating Pesky Computer Pests with PestPatrol

By Patricia Fusco | Posted January 13, 2003

Based in Carlisle, Pa., PestPatrol is a software maker whose flagship security product shares its name. PestPatrol software is available for personal or business use, and works on nearly any Windows-based computer system.

PestPatrol for Small Business is designed for networks connecting 50 or fewer PCs. Users say that little or no technical expertise is required to administer the application across a computer network or single PC. Through a friendly interface, PestPatrol readily finds, quarantines and deletes malicious code — like e-mail viruses, worms, trojans, keylogs or spyware — allowing small businesses to attain a new level of network security.

New Features
The company recently added two new functions to the latest version of the application — PestPatrol 4.1. The first new function is CookiePatrol, created to detect "spyware cookies" that act like miniature databases harvesting specific information from a PC. Typically, these types of cookies are harmless — like adware cookies that capture specific data so fresh advertisements are served with each visit to a specific Web site. But a recently discovered flaw in the way that Internet Explorer handles Web site cookies could enable an attacker to view and edit a user's personal data contained in some cookies.

While most spyware cookies are usually not dangerous security threats capable of invading your privacy or wrecking havoc with your network, some folks simply don't like them lurking around their PC and are glad that PestPatrol finds and removes them altogether.

The second new function is KeyPatrol, designed to detect both known and unknown keyloggers. A keylogger is a program that runs in the background of a computer, recording all the keystrokes made on the machine. Once the keystrokes are logged, they are hidden in the machine for later retrieval or shipped raw to an unknown destination. The potential attacker peruses the log files carefully in the hopes of finding passwords or other personal information that could compromise the security of the individual operating the PC, the computer, or an entire computer network. For example, a keylogger can reveal the contents of all e-mail composed by an infected PC.

Because a keylogger normally consists of two files — a .DLL file that does all the work and an .EXE file that loads the DLL and sets it in motion — PestPatrol's KeyPatrol function is programmed to seek out both files, which must be present in the same directory in order to be a real threat to a computer system.

At Work In The Field
JJS Enterprises is a small business providing electrical and electronics services in Wichita, Kan. Jim Sheldon, JJS Enterprises owner, offered some insight into how he keeps his computer healthy with a daily checkup from PestPatrol.

"My Internet connection is via high-speed cable so it's always on when the computer is on. I actually had several hackers plant trojans on my system before I learned that a firewall was necessary," Sheldon said. "One of my friends told me about PestPatrol and I installed the free trial version. I found a number of trojans trying to phone home, so to speak. That's when I started researching the problem and found that there were more nasty programs out there than just trojans and backdoor programs."

Sheldon is also an avid amateur radio operator, so he spends a lot of time online maintaining a personal Web site. After running PestPatrol just once, Sheldon said he was really surprised at the sheer volume of spyware that was on his computer system.

"PestPatrol cleans up post-surfing garbage admirably, always finding and removing more than several of the freeware programs that claim to be the best at doing the same thing," Sheldon said.

JJS Electronics uses Zone Alarm Pro for its firewall and AVG anti-virus software from Gri Soft, in addition to PestPatrol. Sheldon said AVG and Zone Alarm are always active when the computer is on, and he runs PestPatrol just before turning the computer off.

"That way I'm sure the machine is clean for the next day. I've found that several of the major newspaper sites seem to be obsessed with pop-up adware, and they try to place spyware programs on my computer every time I access their websites," Sheldon said. "I've learned to run PestPatrol right away afterwards, and it cleans the junk out with very little effort on my part. I value my business and personal privacy, and I don't need anyone targeting me with advertising spam through spyware profiling."

Sheldon has been working with computers for more than 30 years, but he said he was particularly impressed with how easy it is to use PestPatrol.

"I'm one of those guys who doesn't read the book unless I can't make it work any other way," Sheldon said. "But I think that almost anyone can run PestPatrol."

In addition to being easy to setup, Sheldon said he was impressed with the detection and cleaning power of PestPatrol.

"As long as you keep your pest data file up to date, any known pest will be found and PestPatrol will allow you to quarantine or delete it," Sheldon said. "CookiePatrol is worth its weight in gold."

Pricing and Availability
PestPatrol 4.1 works with systems that run Windows with 32-bit processing (Windows 95/98/98se/ME/NT4/2000/XP). The software is available online or at major retail outlets. Pricing starts at $39.95 for a single computer license. Small business licenses are available in 5, 10, 25 and 50 user packs, pricing is available on request.

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