Miércoles 31 de Mayo de 2006, Ip nº 155

It's Here; It's There; It's Spyware

FOR all the improvements in computer security, using the Internet is growing only more dangerous — both at home and at work.

The annual Web@Work survey, conducted by Harris Interactive for the security firm Websense, found that the number of companies reporting spyware infestations had jumped 50 percent in the last year alone, and now nearly 92 percent of companies report that they have found spyware on their networks ( websense.com).

Spyware is a somewhat loose term, and can mean anything from often innocuous Web cookies to Trojan programs that can hijack a computer.

But more dangerous varieties of spyware are on the rise, said Michael Newman, a vice president at Websense. He told John Gordon of "Future Tense" on American Public Media ( futuretense.publicradio.org) that information technology managers were increasingly finding keylogging software on their systems. This "particularly malicious" type of spyware detects every keystroke made on a computer and can pick up passwords and other sensitive information, Mr. Newman said.

Pornography sites are among the most dangerous, with many of them replete with pop-up ads and spyware. The good news is that the number of employees reported to have visited a porn site at work dropped to 12 percent from 17 percent the last year. Of those, 95 percent said their visits to porn sites were "accidental." Whoops!

Meanwhile, SiteAdvisor, the Web safety service recently acquired by the security firm McAfee, reported this week that search engines offered little protection from dangerous sites (siteadvisor.com). This includes paid and unpaid search results. In fact, SiteAdvisor found, sponsored results on average contain two to four times the number of malicious sites as do regular results.

Some of the most popular kinds of searches lead Internet users to dangerous sites, SiteAdvisor reported. Often, the sites offer downloads like file-sharing software and screensavers that contain malicious programs. Up to 72 percent of the results from keywords like "Bearshare" or "screensaver" lead to sites that pose a risk.

  20/05/2006. The New York Times.