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The Spyware Problem

The Spyware Problem
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The spyware problem is bigger than most people think. A report issued earlier this year from EarthLink and WebRoot Software indicated that the average computer is crammed with multiple pieces of spyware. The report was based on a survey of 1 million Internet users and found that those systems averaged 28 spyware applications each. In all probability, there are 20 to 30 pieces of spyware on your computer, transmitting information about your computer usage back to the central locations.

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According to the report, the majority of the spyware was adware hidden programs that track the sites you visit on the Internet then pull advertising from the web onto your computer screen. Most adware is not hostile in nature; however, the survey also found more than 300,000 malicious programs running on 1 million computers and these programs are definitely hostile. You may be unknowingly sending your personal information to a stranger on the other side of the world.

The threat of spyware is so widespread and complex that the U.S. Congress is considering three separate bills to address the problem. Several state governments like Utah, California, and New York have started to take action. Many of these states may fine violators as much as $10,000 per occurrence. One obstacle to overcome may be in finding the computer criminals.

A trojan horse is designed to provide access to your computer. More than 30% of all systems scanned by Earthlink and Webroot were infected with Trojan horses. These programs let hackers not only track your behavior but even take control of your PC.

Other problems include cookies that track you and BHOs that "help" your browser.

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