According to a report released by internet provider Earthlink and anti-adware firm Webroot the amount of really dangerous spyware (for instance keyloggers and trojans) has slightly dipped from May to June, but it has almost doubled from the first to the second quarter of this year
In the first quarter of this year SpyAudit found approx. 253,000 pieces of spyware, while during the second quarter this jumped to about 447,000.
During 2004 they have scanned about 2.1 million computer systems and they have detected 54.8 million pieces of spyware and adware. The average number of spyware on PCs is about 26.5 according to the two firms. But they claim that this amount remained fairly stable since the first of the year when the two companies began their scans.
Adware -- defined by Webroot as any advertising-supported program that can put pop-ups, pop-unders, and banners on the screen -- remains the dominant form of we-don't-want-it-ware, said the companies. Adware and adware software's cookies account for 98.8 percent of all the detected spyware.
“The increased prevalence of adware is concerning,” said David Moll, Webroot's chief executive officer. “Consumers should know that not all adware is harmless or benign. Some of the most notorious programs in the spyware family are classified as adware.”
As proof, EarthLink and Webroot put the spotlight on CoolWebSearch (CWS), a particularly virulent form of adware and one of the top adware threats on the Web. Webroot, for instance, has spotted -- and written signatures for -- nearly 100 CWS variations.
“CoolWebSearch is a nasty example of adware that hijacks homepages and Web searches, triggers a crippling amount of pop-ups, and changes a user's browser settings,” said Moll.
Its most common use is to usurp a user's browser home page and direct him or her to a paying client's site instead. Other variations add porn links to IE's Favorites list and add a large number of files to the infected system, reducing overall browsing performance.