Refusing to be deterred from the potential for big profits, spyware purveyors are successfully developing and deploying new tactics to speed the proliferation of spyware, according to the latest State of Spyware report issued today by anti-spyware software developer, Webroot Software.
The report finds dramatic increases in the number of reported corporate spyware incidents as well as an alarming rise in the amount of spyware on corporate machines - a 19% increase during the last quarter alone - and in the sophistication with which spyware invades a PC, eludes detection and removal efforts, and then communicates information from its target to third parties.
Just as disturbing, Webroot's Threat Research Team discovered spyware writers are actively growing their distribution channels and entering new markets. Webroot reveals in the report that the number of websites distributing spyware has quadrupled since the beginning of 2005 to an astonishing 300,000 unique URLs. Webroot has also seen the number of spyware traces in its spyware definition database double in the same period to over 100,000.
"There is an underlying principle to spyware that often gets overlooked: it is a business like any other, " said C. David Moll, CEO of Webroot Software. "Unlike virus writers who are motivated by personal pride or a desire for notoriety, spyware purveyors are motivated by profit - whether it's a penny per pop-up or a keylogger that captures valuable account information. Our research shows that like any business, spyware developers are committed to increasing their profit margins by expanding their distribution channels, utilizing new products and entering new markets."
The business of spyware is threatened on several fronts, the report proffers. Legislation against spyware is now pending in 19 states and four bills affecting spyware are pending at the federal level. Consumers and enterprises alike are taking a more proactive stance against spyware, deploying a proven anti-spyware solution like Webroot Spy Sweeper or altering their online habits to better protect their assets. But the report contends spyware developers are fighting back and refusing to yield any of their market share - as evidenced by the fact that more than 80% of consumer and corporate PCs are infected with spyware and the massive increase in the number of spyware websites and traces of spyware. The report also finds that consumer PCs have an average of 25.4 instances of spyware per scan.
Also included in this edition of Webroot's State of Spyware Report are concise figures on the adware industry and insight into how the recent public outcry against adware has affected the industry's business model. The report also includes the results of Webroot's consumer and corporate SpyAudits, an updated list of the ten most significant spyware and adware threats, a detailed review of recent legislative action and a comprehensive compilation of recent spyware incidents. New to this edition of Webroot's State of Spyware Report is the first-ever analysis on the geographical origin of spyware and which countries are the worst offenders. According to report, the majority of spyware is coming from the U.S., with Poland coming in second and the Netherlands in third.
The State of Spyware report is issued quarterly as an in-depth review and analysis of the impact of spyware, adware and unwanted software on consumers and enterprises. The foundation for much of the analysis and trends reporting comes from Webroot's consumer and corporate SpyAudit tools and from online research culled by Phileas, Webroot's automated spyware research system. The SpyAudit tools invite both consumers and enterprises to scan specific PCs and determine spyware infection levels.