Spy­ware - from Rus­sia with love

Finweek English Edition - - Communication & technology - BENE­DICT KELLY

SE­CU­RITY RE­MAINS a key part of the IT world, but the na­ture of the threats against com­puter users has changed sig­nif­i­cantly over the past few years.

Daniel Mothers­dale, We­b­root mar­ket­ing man­ager for Europe, the Mid­dle East and Africa, reck­ons that many writ­ers of ma­li­cious soft­ware are no longer con­cerned with caus­ing dam­age to com­put­ers but rather with sit­ting qui­etly in front of the PC col­lect­ing in­for­ma­tion.

He says that much of the in­for­ma­tion gath­ered by this ma­li­cious soft­ware, called spy­ware, which could be credit card in­for­ma­tion or sen­si­tive cor­po­rate in­for­ma­tion, is passed on to or­gan­ised crim­i­nal groups mostly based in Rus­sia.

He ex­plains that the na­ture of the threat has cre­ated the need to en­sure that com­put­ers are pro­tected against this kind of threat, some­thing that tra­di­tional se­cu­rity pro­grams are not par­tic­u­larly good at do­ing.

One of the prob­lems is that the writ­ers of th­ese pro­grams are find­ing more so­phis­ti­cated ways of hid­ing the spy­ware. One of th­ese is to hide a smaller pro­gram that pulls down the spy­ware from the In­ter­net. Even if the spy­ware is de­tected and deleted, the next time the com­puter is booted, the hid­den pro­gram down­loads a new copy of it, mak­ing it very dif­fi­cult to rid the com­puter of the threat.

The other threat, while less in­sid­i­ous, that’s mak­ing life dif­fi­cult for com­puter users is ad­ware. This is soft­ware that au­to­mat­i­cally pulls down ad­ver­tis­ing to the com­puter, and while this isn’t ma­li­cious, it does slow down the com­puter and makes the com­put­ing ex­pe­ri­ence frus­trat­ing.

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