The US internet provider EarthLink says that the average home PC has about 28 spyware programs. This statement is based on the results of scans involving over one million home PCs between January and March.
While most spyware is adware-related and relatively benign, it's disturbing that over 300,000 of the more serious system monitors and Trojans were uncovered
EartLink discovered more than 29.5 million examples of spyware during the three months during scans. The most common found type was adware, which displays ads on an infected computer. It also sends data about surfing habits.
But about 300,000 of the 29.5 million were sneaky programs like system monitors and trojans.
System monitors can surreptitiously watch what you do, steal personal information and despatch it across the web, while Trojans can allow malicious hackers to get access to a computer and steal information.
"By tracking and publicising the growth of spyware, we can better educate consumers of its risks and encourage them to take steps to protect themselves and their families while online," said Christine Stevenson of Webroot, which conducted the scans.
One of the best programs to detect and delete spyware is Spybot