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Spyware Sites Quadruple In 2005

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Lots more web sites have cropped up, for the sole purpose of hosting spyware and infecting computers.

Webroot has issued its State of Spyware report (thanks to Josh Simpson at Webroot for passing this along), and the state is in, well, a bad state. Instances of spyware sites have increased fourfold over the first two quarters of 2005.

According to the report, spyware isn’t just the fiefdom of script kiddies anymore. Instead, organized groups of criminals finance the creation of spyware sites and profit from them. Webroot’s report claims more than 300,000 spyware sites now exist.

Spyware has extended its reach into 80 percent of the enterprise PCs assessed in the study. The firm’s Enterprise SpyAudit of almost 60,000 systems at over 20,000 companies found threats ranging from tracking cookies and adware to Trojan programs and system monitors.

Even after taking cookies out of the spyware mix, the audit still found an average of 4.4 instances of Trojans, adware, and system monitors on surveyed machines. Remove adware from the consideration, and 1.2 instances of overtly malicious spyware still turned up on 7 percent of the machines scanned in the second quarter.

“Spyware writers continue to explore new ways to get installed and stay installed. System monitors are being installed via targeted attacks against industrial competitors, government agencies and banks to steal login credentials and intellectual property,” Webroot states in its report. “Strategic use of centrally managed desktop anti-spyware is the only way to gain control over this menace to productivity and security.”

System monitors collect information from machines. Username and password combinations, applications viewed on the desktop, files opened, all become fodder to be collected and sent to a criminal recipient. Trojans allow for remote control of systems, and are a favored tool of spammers who use compromised machines to forward millions of messages to inboxes worldwide.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

Spyware Sites Quadruple In 2005
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