Plagued HTTP traffic, inappropriate content, and personal internet surfing is no longer the major concern for IT administrators. In addition to worms and viruses, casual and business Internet access is a gateway for all sorts of threats such as spyware, malware, phishing and pharming. These unwanted programs are propagating at a rapid rate. Even if you manage to stop one threat, new ones are cropping up daily, to take its place or even improve the status of existing exploits. Recently legislation was introduced in the United States to offer organizations relief from some of these attacks.
But as was discovered with the CAN-SPAM Act, these laws are more likely to drive cyber criminals offshore. And with the amount of money being made from even isolated attacks, it is not surprising that organized crime would be involved in launching highly sophisticated attacks that exploit an organizations need to have online availability to do business.
Spyware is a controversial subject. Some companies like Weatherbug prefer the term adware and claim that their agents are not malicious intruders. They consider their business practices to be a legitimate form of marketing. There is one thing that cannot be argued; Spyware is widespread and it’s growing everyday. Spyware can work like a Mole According to a recent article in Security Pipeline, in the world of espionage, spyware is closest to a mole. A mole will attempt to avoid any activity that might blow his cover; similarly, spyware applications are often content to hide on your system until a certain event occurs. The good news is that there are multiple ways to distinguish them. Spyware apps are usually downloaded without the surfers knowledge and they hide, often residing secretly as just another data link library (DLL) file or innoculous registry setting. Personal Data harvesting Spyware stays in it’s hiding place, making eradication almost impossible while it collects the user’s information such as his messaging habits, browsing behavior and online preferences. More nefarious spyware programs can scout for credit card information, other personal data. It's not beyond reason that spyware could even hijack your PC and hold it hostage, demanding payment in return for restoring it’s functions. The biggest difference between viruses and spyware is money; Spyware is driven by gaining profits whereas viruses are usually driven by hotshot programmers looking to make a name for themselves in the internet community.
Unlike viruses, which can make their presence known by interfering with computer performance or even degrading your network, spyware embeds itself deep within critical components of your operating system. There it can use up memory with it’s host of executables that monitor activities and collect data. Although viruses are dangerous, their overt activities are easier to spot and repair by a host of anti-virus software. Because spyware is so covert, it can remain on workstations and sometimes servers, for an extended period of time and be difficult to remove.
Several applications, some free and some requiring payment have been written to remediate spyware and or adware but, be warned, not all programs are good. There are a few out there that do more bad than good. These apps are not for the rookie computer enthusiast as the software can only reccommend what files should be removed - removing the wrong file(s) can crash your system.
Perimeter Protection is a very effective method to stop spyware and malware at the perimeter, before it can beembeded within your network. One way to achieve this perimeter protection is with an Internet filter that identifies and stops spyware sites at the perimeter, before they have a chance to infect your internal servers. making it easy to stay ahead of the constantly evolving spyware, malware and phishing exploits.
What is Adware?
Phishing Flaw in Alternate Browsers
Phishing Hole Discovered in Internet Explorer