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