Average Windows PC infested with 28 spyware programs

Home PCs are increasingly likely to house software designed to watch each and every click the user makes,” Mark Ward reports for BBC News. “If a home was infested with tiny spy cameras the owner would no doubt want to know about it – especially if the information gathered was being analysed and sold for a profit, or if these alerted unsavoury types of the home-owners absence.”

“While rare is the home infested with tiny electronic spies, the same cannot be said of many Windows computers. On average every PC has 28 so-called spyware programs installed on it, according to an audit carried out by software firm Webroot and net service outfit Earthlink,” Ward reports. “The audit surveyed more than 1.5m PCs over the past year and found more than 41m instances of adware, tracking cookies, spyware, trojans and other malicious programs. Despite the different names, these do the same thing – watch what’s done on a PC and steal information about the user’s activities.”

“The most malicious versions, usually created by virus writers, use PCs to spew out spam, or steal the login names and passwords used on banking websites,” Ward reports.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Be careful out there if you’re connected to the Internet and using Windows. For information about smoothly adding a Macintosh to your computing arsenal (so you can surf the web with impunity), please click here.

27 Comments

  1. On using my wife’s Windows XP Pro based notebook, and despite having the latest version of Norton Internet Security and Firewall installed, I was shocked to discover that the computer was riddled with such spyware.

    Thankfully, ‘SpyBot’ searched for and destroyed them. So, make sure when utilising a Windows emulation program on your Macintosh, ensure that you’re not prone to similar infection, despite using Norton products.

  2. I would venture to guess that 30-50% of home PCs have difficulty connecting to the net and maybe 20% are unusable at any time. Only savvy users can keep their system clean. Something as ridiculous as home-page reset to a porn site that doesn’t load is enough to screw XP up. I’ve seen it a few days ago — the whole thing acted like it was swimming in thick syrup…

    s–l–u–g–g–i–s–h

  3. Unfortunately the label of “spyware” is applied so broadly, that many of the things in question are completely harmless. If you count tracking cookies, for example, many Mac computers would also be spyware infested.

    As for malicious programs, it is true there are lots out there on Windows PCs. But as a long-time Windows user (back to 486 days running Windows 3.1), I can honestly say I’ve never found a virus or malicious spyware app on my computer — because I take pains to keep them off. And no, that doesn’t mean I’ve lived with my computer disconnected from the Internet.

    On the other hand, as a Mac user as well, I’m glad the Mac is not plagued with so many attacks and weaknesses.

  4. I wouldn’t dream of connecting a PC to the internet without a firewall.

    It took less than 2 minutes for my Dad’s PC to get a worm. The irony is he only connected to download a new copy of McAfee firewall for his new XP box. He didn’t realise the built-in firewall was turned off by default.

    It took a lot longer to clean his machine up afterwards.

  5. My friend HATES computers, ever since he bought his crappy Advent laptop for �1600 (I had to show him what kind of PowerBook he could have got for that amount).

    He also bought Norton Security and the laptop still gets hammered with viruses, adware, popups. You name it, he’s probably got it.

    I really don’t think there is a choice – buy a Mac, not a PC.

  6. More windows sucking stories:

    “After 20 years of DOS and all versions of Windows (and OS/2),” he writes, “I took the plunge in March and switched to a 17-inch PowerBook.

    “My motives for switching were (a) a gradual reduction in the robustness of many tier-1 branded laptops, and (b) irritation with keeping the various components of Windows up to date.

    “I was spending an average of three hours a week keeping XP, Microsoft Office XP, various other bits of software � and the virus definitions � up to date.

    “A further irritation was the lack of real usability of Windows XP: scratch the surface and it is very obviously a patchwork of Microsoft’s various operating systems and user interfaces dating back to the mid-1980s.

    “Even though my Windows laptop was only nine months old, the registry was already showing signs of degradation that would eventually require reinstallation of XP and the application software � a six to eight hour job that I have had to do at least once a year as long as I can remember having PCs….”

  7. “Unfortunately the label of “spyware” is applied so broadly, that many of the things in question are completely harmless. If you count tracking cookies, for example, many Mac computers would also be spyware infested.” – Me

    It depends on how you set up the browser, though. I won’t let IE download cookies without my knowledge, and I always refuse cookies unless it’s from a reputable site. I let Safari to accept cookies from sites I navigate to but not from advertisers. Most cookies are from advertisers, loaded when the ad graphics are being loaded up.

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