Computer Crime Research Center


Spyware attacks surfers

Date: May 06, 2005
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
By: CCRC staff

Companies-developers of spyware created a 2 billion dollars a year industry.

The number of computers infected with spyware remains high, despite the rising awareness of users and a series of measures taken to prevent the epidemic. According to the data for the 1rt quarter of 2005, 88% of all computers connected to the Net are infected with spyware programs. This awful fact was revealed in the analytical Ā«State of Spyware ReportĀ» compiled by Webroot.

Among businesses, Webroot found similarly overwhelming results, with spyware on 87 percent of all the corporate PCs it studied. Despite the staggering number of computers infected by spyware, Webroot said, the infection rate actually has diminished since 2004, when the software maker found an average of almost 28 spyware programs on each PC it scanned during the first quarter.

"Clearly there's a growing awareness of the spyware issue, but that has not translated into any kind of rapid decline in the programs," said David Moll, chief executive of Webroot. "When you see the lawsuits, legislation and other forms of attention being given to spyware, there's reason to hope the situation will improve, but people need to take an aggressive approach to fighting it if real progress is going to be made."

Webroot said that adware continues to be the most pervasive form of spyware, with more than 50 percent of all business computers, and almost 60 percent of consumer machines, running some form of the programs. Of the devices already infected with the advertising applications, each machine averaged nearly seven different forms of the programs, according to the research.

According to Webroot spyware generates an estimated $2bn in revenue a year. Based on statistics published by the Internet Advertising Bureau, spyware could represent almost 25 percent of the entire online advertising industry.

The growing number of spyware attacks crafted expressly for making money, rather than for tracking Web use for marketing research or other purposes, is another emerging problem, Webroot said. The report contends that spyware exploits have "crippled" some businesses, particularly financial-services companies, in some cases by stealing customer data. Spyware infection also has slowed the growth of e-commerce by eroding consumer trust in online security.

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