What does DetectX Swift detect?

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It is important to remember that DetectX Swift is a troubleshooting tool for your Mac, and not just a malware or adware scanner. DetectX Swift uses a four-fold classification system. Where an issue falls under more than one category, the search labels it according to the highest category it belongs to (where 1 is the least worrisome and 4 is the most):

1. Potentially destabilising software (PDS)
2. Potentially unwanted software (PUS)
3. Adware (ADW)
4. Malware (MAL)

 

1. Potentially destabilising software (PDS)

Items found by DetectX Swift labelled as Potentially Destabilising Software (PDS) include perfectly legitimate commercial applications, which may nevertheless cause the Mac or other software on the Mac to perform unexpectedly, poorly or even render the Mac unbootable under certain conditions.

These programs typically offer to remove or delete system files and caches, or to alter or remove application binaries under the claim that they will improve performance or ‘clean’ junk files.

While such operations can sometimes be performed without detriment, that is not always the case. Other applications may behave unexpectedly or not launch at all after being ‘cleaned’ by a PDS. For example, ‘cutting’ localisation (i.e., ‘foreign language’) binaries, deleting invisible licensing files or other required resources can all destabilise an otherwise functioning program or system service.

PDS vendors often claim their products can “speed up” or “clean” a Mac by removing caches, whereas the reality is that regularly purging caches does exactly the opposite (the whole purpose of a cache is to make loading frequently needed data faster).

Of course, sometimes caches do become corrupt or bloated, and users can sometimes be impressed with what appears to be a performance improvement after using a PDS. However, this is rather like improving an underperforming football team by selling the entire squad of players rather than trying to identify the specific outfielders (or is it the coach?) that are responsible for the problem.

Rather than taking a blanket ‘shotgun’ approach to troubleshooting, users are far better served by taking an analytical approach to discover the true cause of any poor performance problems. DetectX Swift’s Search, Profiler, and History functions are designed to do exactly this. If you need expert help analysing the data provided by DetectX Swift, registered users may contact Sqwarq support for a free consultation.

The PDS category also includes applications found by DetectX Swift that are inherently inefficient, such as using excessive system resources to perform what should otherwise be light resource task.

Issue flag:
When DetectX Swift identifies apps that fall solely within this category it will flag them as PDS (note: issue flagging is not available in v1.0x of DetectX Swift, but is planned for v1.1 update).

 

2. Potentially unwanted software (PUS)

Whereas PDS items may only be destabilising in certain circumstances or when used in a certain way, items found by DetectX Swift within the PUS category are more consistently detrimental or a nuisance to the user.

Applications that use excessive and/or unethical marketing practices to encourage users to install either the application itself or auxiliary applications that the user may not explicitly desire are considered PUS by DetectX Swift. Such applications may also use excessive popups and nags to encourage users to pay premium rates for actions that can often be performed natively on the Mac or which are widely available for free or as open source software by other more reputable vendors.

PUS applications may, in some cases, expose user information to unknown or unauthorised parties, and/or perform unexpected actions.

Issue flag:
When DetectX Swift identifies apps that fall into this category it will flag them as PUS unless they also fall into a higher category (note: issue flagging is not available in v1.0x of DetectX Swift, but is planned for v1.1 update).

 

3. Adware (ADW)

This category includes applications, processes and files found by DetectX Swift which attempt to inject advertising into web pages, and/or redirect browser searches to sites the user had no intention of visiting in order to generate advertising revenue. ADW also includes software that uses excessively intrusive advertising techniques and fear-based marketing strategies.

Issue flag:
When DetectX Swift identifies items that fall into this category it will flag them as ADW unless they also fall into a higher category (note: issue flagging is not available in v1.0x of DetectX Swift, but is planned for v.1.1 update).

 

4. Malware (MAL)

This category includes anything found by DetectX Swift that compromises the user’s security or acts to harm the interests of the user. Typically this includes RATS, DNS changers, Ransomware, Trojans and Viruses among others.

The MAL category also includes keyloggers. Although some keylogger developers may argue that their software has genuine uses similar to parental controls or user account management software, we find the surreptitious and deceptive nature of keyloggers to fall well within our definition of malware as stated in the previous paragraph.

Parental control and user account management tools work best when the user is aware of the restrictions or limitations imposed on their use of resources managed or owned by others. Moreover, in our view, ethical software does not attempt to capture or exfiltrate a user’s personal data covertly.

Issue flag:
When DetectX Swift identifies items that fall into this category it will flag them as MAL (note: issue flagging is not available in v1.0x of DetectX Swift, but is planned for v1.1 update).