PCs Monitored, E-mail Bugged

  |  April 20, 2004   |  Comments

Research reveals an average of 28 pieces of spyware per computer,and half of spam filled with activity-tracking beacons.

The average computer houses roughly 28 items of monitoring software, unbeknownst to the user, according to Internet service provider Earthlink and Webroot Software. The study was released just in time for the FTC's Spyware [define] Workshop on April 19 in Washington, DC.

The findings come from a collaborative SpyAudit report that analyzed Scans of PCs during the first quarter of 2004, revealing more than 29.5 million instances of spyware. While the majority of infiltrations are benign forms of adware, there are roughly 185,000 cases each of system monitors and Trojan horses [define].

SpyAudit, Jan. 1 to Mar. 31, 2004
Total Number of SpyAudit Scans: 1,062,756
Total Instances of Spyware Found: 29,540,618
Instances of Spyware per Scanned PC: 27.8
Adware Installations on Scanned PCs: 5,344,355
Adware Cookie Installations on Scanned PCs: 23,826,785
System Monitor Installations on Scanned PCs: 184,559
Trojan Installations on Scanned PCs: 184,919
Source: Earthlink and Webroot Software

The spyware issue has been getting attention both on the federal and state levels, where legislators are considering legislation that would restrict the invasive practices. But some Internet companies believe the statutes are too restrictive. Adware company WhenU filed suit against Utah, claiming that the state's anti-spyware statute is unconstitutional.

Internet users are also under siege from "Web beacons" [define]. Traditionally used by legitimate Web marketers, these email tags are now being heavily adopted by spammers. According to email defense Solutions company MX Logic, Inc., nearly half of unwanted messages contain these beacons, which spammers use to validate email addresses and detect activity.

MX Logic analyzed that email messages that were identified as spam by its filters and by customer quarantines from the prior 12 month period, resulting in a sample size of nearly one billion emails. Through this process, the company determined which bugged messages were considered spam.

Typically, Web beacons, or "bugs," are quite common in email since e-marketers rely on them to provide results of email campaigns. "We see Web beacons in a fair amount of messages. There are legitimate reasons for Web beacons, such as tracking activity, measuring click-through rates, inserting cookies for personalization," says Scott Petry, founder and vice president of products and engineering for Postini, an email security company.

Significant portions of bulk mail messages may contain a beacon, but not all of it is unwanted or non-opt-in. Petry explains that all mass mailers -- legitimate or otherwise -- use Web beacons to report metrics and results to customers.

ClickZ Live Chicago Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, Oct 3 to take advantage of Early Bird Rates!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

ClickZ Today is our #1 newsletter.
Get a daily dose of digital marketing.

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

IBM: Social Analytics - The Science Behind Social Media Marketing

IBM Social Analytics: The Science Behind Social Media Marketing
80% of internet users say they prefer to connect with brands via Facebook. 65% of social media users say they use it to learn more about brands, products and services. Learn about how to find more about customers' attitudes, preferences and buying habits from what they say on social media channels.

An Introduction to Marketing Attribution: Selecting the Right Model for Search, Display & Social Advertising

An Introduction to Marketing Attribution: Selecting the Right Model for Search, Display & Social Advertising
If you're considering implementing a marketing attribution model to measure and optimize your programs, this paper is a great introduction. It also includes real-life tips from marketers who have successfully implemented attribution in their organizations.

Resources

Jobs

    • Recent Grads: Customer Service Representative
      Recent Grads: Customer Service Representative (Agora Financial) - BaltimoreAgora Financial, one of the nation's largest independent publishers...
    • Managing Editor
      Managing Editor (Common Sense Publishing) - BaltimoreWE’RE HIRING: WE NEED AN AMAZING EDITOR TO POLISH WORLD-CLASS CONTENT   The Palm...
    • Senior Paid Search & Advertising Manager
      Senior Paid Search & Advertising Manager (Smarty Had A Party) - St. LouisCompany Description: A warm, loving, [slightly wacky] startup, we view...