Spyware Lurks On Most PCs

Personal computers continue to fall victim to spyware. According to Webroot‘s “The State of Spyware Report,” 66 percent of personal computers scanned by the company’s online tool were found to be infected with an average 25 spyware entities each.

The report accounts for over one million scans performed on Webroot’s site in the first quarter of this year. Results show spyware instances declining slightly, though still an enormous presence. Webroot defines spyware as encompassing adware, cookies, sytem monitors and Trojans. Its software evaluates the value of cookies and adware to the user, and makes recommendations regarding those that may be malicious in intent.


Consumer Computers With Instances of Spyware
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Discounting cookies, the company found 66 percent of computers were infected with some form of spyware in Q1, 2005. That represent a decline from 77 percent in the last quarter of 2004.

Cookie deletion and attendant privacy issues have been the subject of considerable attention recently. Seventy-six percent of scans found cookies on consumer PCs.

“It is conceivable that cookies can take up disk space depending on how they are formed, and can cause a mild annoyance,” says Webroot VP of Threat Research Richard Steinnon. “Many users find it a mild annoyance, or feel uncomfortable with their behavior being tracked, period.”

Adware was found on 64 percent of the computers scanned, although the survey does not differentiate between software installed with or without the user’s knowledge or consent.


Spyware Found on Consumer Computers by All Categories
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“Even if it is a totally opt-in ad with consent, it adds to resource demand,” explains Steinnon. “If you have five to seven [adware programs], the average we are finding, your system is not going to work.”

Malicious system monitors and Trojans (define), are present in much lower numbers. System monitors came in at just seven percent, while Trojans were found on 19 percent of computers scanned.

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