Spyware Poses Risk to Consumers
(Federal Trade Commission - FTC)
"Spyware poses potential risks. "These include invasions of privacy, security risks, and functionality problems for consumers." Spyware also could promote identity theft by harvesting personally identifiable information from consumers' computers, and it may adversely affect the operation of personal computers. "These harms are problems in themselves, and could lead to a loss in consumer confidence in the Internet as a medium of communication and commerce," the testimony says.
Spyware can cause problems for businesses. Companies may incur costs as they seek to block and remove spyware from their employees' computers; productivity may be affected by pop-up ads launched by spyware; and keystroke capturing by spyware could put trade secrets at risk.
"Given how broadly spyware can be distributed and the severity of some of its potential risks, government, industry, and consumers should treat the threats to privacy, security, and functionality posed by spyware as real and significant," the testimony says.
Congress Eager to Ban Spyware (PC World)
"Spyware is technological trespassing, say several members of a House subcommittee eager to pass legislation banning downloads without a user's clear permission."
"Ari Swartz, associate director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, listed steps the government should take to protect consumers.
"Number one: Enforce existing laws. Number two: The industry needs to do a better job self-regulating. Number three: Privacy legislation that protects these concerns," he told the subcommittee. He added that the FTC needs more resources to go after violators."
"Representative Cliff Sterns (R-Florida) said spyware is more than a nuisance, it's a security concern. The Commerce Committee recently found 200 spyware applications on its own computer, demonstrating the problem's severity, he noted."
"I am a little concerned that you're not concerned, that you don't think people's privacy is violated," said Sterns, who chairs the subcommittee."
FTC officials blast spyware measures (CNET News)
"You like this stuff? You're the only person in this country that wants spyware on their computer," Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, said to Beales. [Howard Beales director of the FTC's bureau of consumer protection]
Congress Tackles Anti-Spyware Law (Washington Post)
"Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) today introduced a bill that would outlaw "spyware" programs designed to record Web browsing habits and collect personal data such as credit card and Social Security numbers. A House subcommittee, meanwhile, quizzed Federal Trade Commission officials today on their continued opposition to spyware legislation."
SB 1436: Consumer Protection Against
Computer Spyware Act (Senate Majority Caucus)
Most Internet users are unaware of the rampant use and growing problem of Spyware. Spyware are various programs, cookies and scripts that perform various, and often malicious, functions on your computer without your knowledge.
These programs track what web sites you visit, may steal your passwords, access your financial information, log your keystrokes, bombard you with pop-ups, track your purchases and remotely report your activity and personal information to a third party.
The scary part is that this is all done without the user's knowledge or consent. You may never even know the software is there, let alone what it is doing. Adding insult to injury, much of this software is designed to be nearly impossible to uninstall."
Anti-Spyware Bills Advance in CA (Marketing Vox)
"Two California anti-spyware bills escaped their respective committees and will face votes.
One in the senate would find spyware companies $1,000 for installing software without notice, imposing a clear distinction between spyware and what the law would consider adware.
The Assembly bill is more interesting, banning software that forces browsers to move to sites not chosen by the user, secret surveillance and preventing the quitting of a program. It would also ban software designed to prevent de-installation.
Most importantly, it allows civil suits against spyware outfits, allowing angered consumers to enforce the measure, rather than relying politically and budgetarily on the state's attorney general."
States Speed up Spyware Race (Security Focus)
“State lawmakers' eagerness to crack down on Internet "spyware" could force the federal government to move sooner than expected to pass its own law, despite misgivings in the Bush administration and among technology executives.
Only one state -- Utah -- has an anti-spyware law, but New York and California both are considering proposals.”
Pop-Up Company Fights Utah's Spyware Law (NBC 17)
“A New York company whose software creates pop-up ads is going to court to fight a Utah law that bans such ads.
WhenU.com claims the new law violates its constitutionally protected right to advertise. It also says the law does little to protect the privacy of computer users.”
Search engines delete adware company (ZD Net)
"Yahoo and Google have disabled links to controversial adware maker WhenU after the company was accused of engaging in unauthorized practices aimed at boosting its search rankings, WhenU's top executive confirmed Thursday.
The practices came to light following an investigation by antispyware crusader Ben Edelman
, a Harvard student who found that the company used a technique known as "cloaking" to dupe search engines into favorably listing decoy Web pages that direct people to other destinations, once they click on the link.
A search Thursday on the term WhenU returned a broken link to a WhenU page on Yahoo and no links to WhenU's pages on Google.
WhenU Chief Executive Avi Nader said the practices in question were the work of an outside search engine optimization firm based in New York. Nader said WhenU will no longer work with the company.
"The moment we were alerted to this today, it was taken down," Nader said, referring to misleading Web pages designed to trick the search engines into giving it higher rankings. "We anticipate being relisted in the major search engines soon."
"A list of frequently asked questions posted on Google's Web site clearly states that the company prohibits cloaking or any other attempt to manipulate rankings."
92 Percent of Organizations With at Least 100 Employees Have Been Contaminated With Spyware, Yet Only Six Percent of Employees Believe They Have Been Infected (TMCnet)
"One of the most common ways for an employee to download spyware is by using a peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing application such as KaZaa or Morpheus. Many P2P users do not realize that by downloading a seemingly harmless mp3 file, it may be accompanied by a spyware application."
There’s No Such Thing As Safe Surfing Anymore (eMediaWire)
“Simply by surfing the Web, employees run the risk of downloading spyware on corporate networks. Spyware can compromise security, consume bandwidth and slow networks to a crawl.”
Spyware sneaks into the desktop (Computer World)
"My customer workstations were really gummed up," says Edwards, LAN administrator at the Administrative Office of the Courts in Little Rock, Ark. All 200 machines in his offices were running a wide range of spyware, and many were running multiple programs. The programs ran in the background without the users' knowledge, downloading information on Web surfing activities and uploading advertising in the background for use in pop-up ads. As the volume of these hidden programs grew, they began using up system resources and choking off network bandwidth. Annoyed with all the pop-up ads, some users downloaded free pop-up blocker programs that installed even more spyware."
As spyware accumulates, it consumes increasing amounts of resources. A single program may install upward of 300 files and make 500 registry entries, says Roger Thompson, vice president of development at PestPatrol Inc. in Carlisle, Pa.
Spyware programs may also be used in corporate espionage. Thor Larholm, senior security researcher at network security tool vendor PivX Solutions LLC in Newport Beach, Calif., says a hacker stole one company's trade secrets by using an adware program's communications channel to plant a Trojan on corporate desktops.
But preventing spyware problems also requires installation of desktop firewall software on every Windows machine to detect and block attempts to install spyware, whether by the user or through the social engineering tricks spyware creators play to get users to click on a misleadingly worded pop-up window.
Hijackers Lurk In Cyberspace, Spy On Your Web Surfing (NBC 17)
Forget spam. Forget worms and viruses. The thing that's really slowing computers down these days is called "mal-ware." It's software that gets downloaded, sometimes without your knowledge.
It is spyware that tracks your web movements. Then there's adware behind those pop-up ads and scumware that hijacks your homepage.”
Spyware Has Computer Users Concerned (KSL)
“In the latest on the cyber frontier, you can forget Spam, forget Worms and Viruses. The thing that's really slowing down your computer these days is Mal-ware.
That includes Spyware that tracks your web movements, Adware behind those pop-up ads, and Scumware which hijacks your homepage. “
“One survey by internet provider Earthlink found close to 30 million spyware programs on more than one-million computers. That's nearly 28 spyware programs for every computer.”
Who Protects The Customer From Malware? ()IT-Director)
“There have been recent reports of attempts to use Trojans to defraud home PCs users when accessing on-line bank accounts and e-retail sites, or simply to steal their identities.
The actual level of such activity is unknown and probably very high if the level of identity theft is anything to go by. Trojans, as you probably already know, are spyware – they open back-doors into a PC, they record keyboard activity or even take screen shots and they can also send what they discover direct to a hacker.”
Microsoft to Battle Spyware (Wired News)
Nearly half the world's computers may soon have built-in protection against debilitating infections of spyware and other unwanted software, thanks to Microsoft's update of the Windows XP operating system.
Expected to be released this summer, the Windows XP Service Pack 2 update will contain no fewer than five new security features designed to ward off the unauthorized installation of software via the Internet, according to Microsoft officials. The company hopes the features will not only quell the growing number of complaints from consumers about Windows XP's susceptibility to spyware, but will also save businesses millions of dollars in tech support calls.
Software Industry Fights Spyware Crackdown (NBC 17)
“The software industry is opposing a bill that's intended to crack down on so-called computer "spyware."
Robert Holleyman, the chief executive of the Business Software Alliance, told a Senate subcommittee that the problem is bad people, not bad products.
"Computer snooping, or spying on computer users, is a reprehensible practice that invades our privacy. But the problem is with reprehensible behavior, not bad software tools or products," he said.
The trade group says the same underlying technology that can enable spyware may also run many legitimate applications, so the software itself isn't the problem. Holleyman suggested putting restrictions on how information that is gathered is used.
The bill requires notice and consent before a software program downloads itself onto a computer.”
Monitoring Software on Your PC: Spyware, Adware, and Other Software (Federal Trade Commission - FTC)
"Spyware": Research, Testing, Legislation, and Suits
How Spyware Attacks (Fortune)
Avoiding Spyware (Fortune)
What's the Best Way to Stop Spyware? (PC World)
ACLU Discloses Documents in Extraordinary Sealed Challenge to Patriot Act Spying Power (The American Civil Liberties Union - ACLU))
A Web of Electronic Denial (Wired News)
Ghosts in Our Machines: Background and Policy Proposals on the "Spyware" Problem (CDT Report) [pdf]
Sick of Spam? Prepare for Adware (Wired News)
Nasty Malware Fouls PCs With Porn (Wired News)
Spyware -the new scourge of the Internet
(New Straits Times - Malaysia)
Worms and Viruses Target IM (PC World)
Bigger Threats, Better Defense -
Filling the Gaps: Anti-Spyware (PC World)
Addressing the cause, not symptoms (CNET News)