LONDON: Britain has the third highest rate of spyware infections on PCs used by its countrymen. Spyware is the secret programs implanted without the user’s knowledge with the intention of tracking what the user does with his machine. Thailand and the U.S. are the two countries with more infected PCs.
According to a research study by security firm Webroot Software, almost 55 per cent of PCs with Windows programmes are also infected with adware, a form of spyware that can subject people to pop-up adverts, hijack their homepage and install bookmarks. It also said 21 per cent of the machines have Trojans and five per cent system monitors.
The report was released to coincide with a meeting in London of MPs and computer experts to discuss what can be done to combat spyware.
Webroot says some of the spyware programs are so malicious that they get into the PCs unnoticed and steal confidential information, including passwords and log-in details.
Spyware and adware travel alongside file-sharing programs or media files that people download from the web.
Spyware and adware can be countered by programs such as AdAware and Spybot.
Webroot said Britain has 18 “spies” on an average PC if cookies are included. Spyware, at its basic levels, is a program that tracks online and offline activities of the PC user, which are shared with third parties without the userâ€™s consent. It can consist of system monitoring tools that record everything from visited sites to chat sessions, while also including keylogger programs, which capture keystroke information such as usernames and passwords used for online banking.
Webroot estimates that spyware may be costing the country as much as 445 million pounds in lost time, productivity and in computer repairs.