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Spyware Adding More Sinister Motives

Recent research has shown that spyware is posing increasingly dangerous threats and in newer forms. Web security firm ScanSafe has revealed through its Annual Global Threat Report that it has arrested 254 percent more spyware during 2006 in comparison to 2005 and 32 percent fewer viruses over the same period. In spite of that, unique Web viruses continue to rise in numbers and mutate to impose more and new attacks.

Dan Nadir, vice president of product strategy at ScanSafe said in a company press release that not only has there been a harsh growth in spyware throughout 2006, but it has been increasingly supporting more treacherous payloads. Moreover there was a trend in use of Web viruses to spread spyware, said Nadir. As a result the distinguishing line between spyware and Web virus has become so weak that the most appropriate term to describe those Web-based threats is only 'malware'.

ScanSafe's research also found that one fifth of all online searches on Web 2.0 sites produce link to malware. Also the social networking sites are becoming growing targets of attackers.

The study further indicated that as the built-in features of the operating systems tie them down to make it difficult to install unwanted software, malware creators are employing social engineering techniques to propagate threat. The firm blocked 26 percent of Web viruses that used some kind of social engineering tactics to entice users in installing malicious software. The attackers lured the users by providing free MP3 or pornographic images and that helped malware to elude the various security precautions.

In addition to such criminal motives Web virus attacks also aimed to steal financial data from users. The company detected 65 percent of Web viruses that aimed to obtain some easy financial benefit.

Nadir points out that in 2006 the Web had become a direct ground for malware attacks. With the rapid proliferation and sophistication in the types of Web threats, that area has become the quickest growing threat vector. The key message is that one cannot just depend on periodical updates of databases or anti-virus engines to protect the network against Web attacks.

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