Making Progress in the Long Fight Against Spyware
In the recently released State of the Net report for 2007, Consumer Reports noted that spyware infections have dropped. However, the chances of any given computer getting an infection are still quite high -- one in three -- with about a quarter of the infected computers suffering serious damage from spyware. The report highlights the practice of online advertising services and Web sites deceptively installing programs on computers, which then pop up advertisements. A Google study estimated that ten percent of the websites it indexes attempt to download potentially unwanted software onto visiting computers. Many large websites have agreed to discontinue use of these advertising services, after several states and the FTC brought action against various sites. This report serves as a reminder that -- while our tools for fighting spyware are advancing -- so too is the threat. Anti-virus and anti-spyware analysts say that threats are continuing to emerge, and consumers are at great risk. New tools are available to malware creators, making the creation and distribution of malware easier. While progress is being made in the fight against malware, technical and legal avenues must continue to be pursued.