Skip to comments.Top 10 "Most Unwanted" Spyware Named
Posted on 12/14/2004 6:22:01 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach
A security firm named the top 10 spyware threats this week, saying that the secretly-installed software poses an "insidious" threat to consumers and corporations alike.
Webroot, which makes end-user and enterprise editions of Spy Sweeper, used its relationship with Internet service provider EarthLink to tally the most prevalent spyware, then selected the worst based on its knowledge of how each works and the damage it can cause.
"We use the P-I index," said Richard Stiennon, Webroot's vice president of threat research. "P is for prevalence, I is for insidiousness."
Each of the ten spyware programs cited by Webroot was spotted at least 50,000 times in the scans that the Boulder, Colo.-based vendor does free of charge on its own Web site, or in conjunction with EarthLink.
"The people who write this stuff are gaining sophistication in their coding practices as they attempt to evade detection and removal," said Stiennon. "These ten are the most insidious programs in terms of prevalence and effect."
Some of the software in Webroot's top 10 may be familiar to users, but most is a blur of anonymous titles that don't impart their potential impact.
Among the former is Gator (also known as GAIN), long infamous because it's bundled with the popular Kazaa peer-to-peer file sharing software. Gator/GAIN, said Webroot, made the top 10 list because it spews banner ads based on your surfing habits.
Others on the list, however, are unknown to all but the most dedicated follower of spyware. They include such programs as PurityScan, which puts up pop-up ads and tricks users into installation by claiming to find and delete porn on the PC; CoolWebSearch, which can hijack searches, browser home page, and IE's settings; and Perfect Keylogger, a spy that records all visited sites, keystrokes, and mouse clicks to, for instance, divine passwords, account numbers, and other sensitive information.
The rest of the list is fleshed out with the likes of n-CASE and KeenValue (adware), TIBS Dialer (software the usurps the modem and dials toll numbers, typically porn pay-by-the-minute phone sites), Transponder and ISTbar/AUpdate (spyware posing as browser assistants), and Internet Optimizer, which hijacks Web errors and re-directs them to its own site.
"It's our goal to inform Internet users of the ramifications of having potentially unwanted programs on their systems," said Stiennon, adding that, "it's their choice to keep or remove these programs. We're just making sure they have that information so they are making knowledgeable decisions."
Webroot isn't the only ranker or rater of behind-the-scene spyware. Computer Associates, which earlier this year purchased Webroot rival PestPatrol, recently added a spyware-only section to its online alert center, where it regularly lists the top 5 threats based on the number of reports it receives from users.
It's current list puts Kazaa at the top, with GameSpy Arcade, Download Accelerators Plus, Ezula, and Adopt.Hotbar.com rounding out the five.
Spyware plagues both consumers and corporations, according to data from analysts. In a recent survey done by IDC, for instance, enterprise users labeled spyware as the fourth-biggest threat to their company's security. They're reacting to the problem by spending money on additional security, a trend that will grow dramatically in the next several years.
According to IDC, anti-spyware software revenues will reach approximately $31 million in 2004, but skyrocket by nearly 10 times to $305 million in 2008.
I've probably spent 100 hours in the past year from the side effects and effort to defeat spyware. Get at least three adware detectors, scan often, at least once a week.
I decided it was time to try Linux for Browsing....set up a totally separate machine for it.
I spend a couple of days over Thanksgiving, at my daughters house in Vegas trying to get the stuff cleaned off, finally just wiped it all, reformatted everything , rebuilt XP Home and told her not to let the teenager on the machine again.
Please provide a link for spysweeper, thanks
Please provide a link for spysweeper, thanks
Read a recent article (in PC World, I think) that it is a fallacy that Linux is immune from such problems.
||| Adware is advertising-supported software that displays pop-up advertisements whenever the program is running. Often the software is available online for free, and the advertisements create revenue for the company. Although it's seemingly harmless (aside from the intrusiveness and annoyance of pop-up ads), adware can install components onto your computer that track personal information (including your age, sex, location, buying preferences, or surfing habits) for marketing purposes.
Some advertising-supported software will not inform you when it installs adware on your system, or will bury such notification in small print. In many cases, the software that is financially supported by adware will cease to function without the adware component. Sometimes adware will infiltrate your computer even when you decline the installation.
|||Adware cookies are pieces of software that Web sites store on your hard drive when you visit a site. Some cookies exist just to save you time-for example, when you check a box for a Web site to remember your password on your computer. But some sites now deposit adware cookies, which store personal information (like your surfing habits, usernames and passwords, and areas of interest) and share the information with other Web sites. This sharing of information allows marketing firms to create a user profile based on your personal information and sell it to other firms.
Adware cookies are installed and accessed without your knowledge or consent.
|||System monitors can capture virtually everything you do on your computer, from keystrokes, emails, and chat room dialogue to which sites you visit and which programs you run. System monitors usually run in the background so that you don't know you're being watched. The information gathered by the system monitor is stored on your computer in an encrypted log file for later retrieval. Some programs can even email the log files to other locations.
There has been a recent wave of system monitoring tools disguised as email attachments or free software products.
|||Trojan horses are malicious programs that appear as harmless or desirable applications. Trojan horses are designed to steal or encode computer data, and to destroy your system. Some Trojan horses, called RATs (Remote Administration Tools), give attackers unrestricted access to your computer whenever you're online. The attacker can perform activities like file transfers, adding or deleting files and programs, and controlling your mouse and keyboard.
Trojan horses are distributed as email attachments, or they can be bundled with other software programs.
http://www.webroot.com/ here you go
No mention of CWS (Cool Web Search) or Xupiter.
Actually I have heard of and encountered most of those. I've found ISTbar to be particularly obnoxious in the past.
CoolWebSearch, which can hijack searches............mentioned.
Sorry, they do name the ten top pieces of Malware....
>>>I can't imagine how computers belonging to grandma's and other segments of the population who are typically not as computer literate are doing.
I've touched a few of those machines. Fundamentally, they're sucking wind, and pretty bad. I've pretty savvy, and I've come across several machines where the answer is to reinstall from the recovery disks that shipped with the machine, if they exist/can be found.
The whole thing stinks. I'm for capital punishment for spammers/virus writers/spyware disseminators. I am not joking, serious as a heart attack.
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