90% of PCs have some form of spyware, says Nasscom

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Spyware threat


The source

of spyware could be browsing habits (Web sites visited and links checked), data entered into forms, including account names, passwords, text of Web forms and Web-based e-mail.

The most

affected businesses would be information technology and IT-enabled services because of their extensive use of Internet.

Chennai, March 29

The higher level of pirated software in India poses greater vulnerability of virus or "spyware" attacks on personal computers (PCs), according to Mr Niraj Kaushik, Country Manager, Trend Micro India, an anti-virus company.

Quoting a Nasscom (National Association of Software and Services Companies) report, Mr Kaushik said software piracy level in India was close to 73 per cent compared to the worldwide average of 36 per cent and 23 per cent in the US and Canada. This means a large number of PCs running on pirated software in India are less protected from viruses since software in the machines do not have a provision for updates of anti-virus solutions, he told newspersons.

Mr Ravi Krishnaswamy, Director, Frost & Sullivan, a consultant company, said about 90 per cent of computers have some form of spyware which is a software that utilises a computer's Internet access without the host's knowledge or explicit permission.

The source of spyware could be browsing habits (Web sites visited and links checked), data entered into forms, including account names, passwords, text of Web forms and Web-based e-mail, he said.

Types of spywares

There are various types of spywares, and the most prominent among them are "adware", "keyloggers" and toolbars. The adware is the most common type of spyware displaying advertisements such as banners or pop-ups on a desktop based on a user's Web browsing patterns. A keylogger is a surveillance software, which monitors and stores a user's keystrokes (anything that the person types), saves them and sends them to a receiver.

The toolbars are a group of buttons attached to a user's Web browser (normally in a horizontal bar) allowing for quick navigation. These toolbars may trick a person into clicking on something or searching for something that the person did not intend to search for.

Not all toolbars are intrusive. For example, Yahoo! and Google make Web browser toolbars with helpful features and easy navigation within their sites, he said.

According to Mr Krishnaswamy, spyware is not yet a major concern for businesses in India, but is likely to be so in the future.

The most affected businesses would be information technology and IT-enabled services because of their extensive use of Internet.

There is a risk of more virus or spyware attacks in India than other Asian countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia, he said.

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(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 30, 2006)
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