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Spyware remains rampant as Winamp exploited
Published: 2006-02-06

A new study by the University of Washington finds that one in twenty executables on the Internet contain spyware.

The study, which sampled more than 20 million Internet addresses, also found other disturbing trends. Among them: one in 62 Internet domains contains "drive-by download attacks," which try to force spyware onto the user's computer simply by visiting the website. The problems for web surfers primarily affect Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser but exist to a lesser extent for other browsers as well. The study at the 13th Annual Network and Distributed System Security Symposium in San Diego. While the study's coordinators did notice a 93% reduction between May and October 2005 - likely due to an increased use of anti-spyware tools among average users - spyware remains a major problem for unsuspecting Internet users.

The study is released on the heels of a new spyware application found for Winamp, the widely popular MP3 player. Sunbelt Software has found malicious spyware that exploits a recent flaw discovered in Winamp. The flaw permits remote code execution and allows shady websites to install several spyware applications, which then hijack's a user's browser.

Spyware remains a major menace on the Internet for many Windows users - it is often installed without the user's knowledge, and can be very difficult to remove. A copy of the study (PDF) is available from the University of Washington. Users are encouraged to install one or several anti-spyware applications freely available on the Internet, or purchase commercial alternatives to thwart the threat.

Posted by: Kelly Martin
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