Feeds

The average PC: spyware hotel

28 items per machine, audit reveals

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Remote control for virtualized desktops

PCs scanned using a free scanning service from US ISP giant EarthLink harboured an average of 28 items of spyware, according to figures published yesterday.

Earthlink's service, which uses Webroot's Spy Audit detection program, found that most of the items were harmless cookies. But more than 300,000 serious system monitors (e.g. key loggers) and Trojans were uncovered during the course of just over one million Spy Audit scans. Even allowing for the fact most PCs would have several infections the figure - which covers scans conducted during the first three months of this year - is still very high.

Anybody can use Spy Audit but the service is limited: it only tells you that you have spyware installed without providing an immediate means to remove it (so it's a Spyware counter not a killer). Earthlink's access packages come with spyware blocking technology, so it is helping its own subscribers to deal with the issue. For the rest of us there are some good free tools - such as Lavasoft's Ad-aware - which do allow user remove spyware from their PCs.

That aside, Earthlink and Webroot are helping to raise awareness about a growing security problem. Spyware applications can be defined as programs that secretly forward information about a user's online activities to third parties without a user's knowledge or permission. Typically, spyware arrives bundled with freeware or shareware games or P2P applications or through email. People disagree about definitions of spyware even more than they disagree about spam. Developers of products labelled as spyware are only too ready to go to law in defence of their reputations. ®

Related stories

Spyware found on one in three corporate networks
Closing spyware loopholes
PestScan: free spyware checker (Ad-Aware is much more useful)
KaZaA founders to borrow your PC to distribute content

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?