Top 10 spyware threats

Beware: The top 10 most common sources of spyware are ready to infiltrate your systems -- if they haven't already.

Visit our spyware resources page to learn more about spyware threats and how small and medium-sized businesses can beat them.

The list below describes the 10 spyware threats most frequently identified by Webroot Software Inc.'s Spy Audit, a free spyware scanner tool.

1. CoolWebSearch (CWS)
CoolWebSearch may hijack any of the following: Web searches, home page, and other Internet Explorer settings. Recent variants of CoolWebSearch install using malicious HTML applications or security flaws, such as exploits in the HTML Help format and Microsoft Java Virtual machines.

2. Gator (GAIN)
Gator is an adware program that may display banner advertisements based on user Web surfing habits. Gator is usually bundled with numerous free software programs, including the popular file-sharing program Kazaa.

3. 180search Assistant
180search Assistant is an adware program that delivers targeted pop-up advertisements to a user’s computer. Whenever a keyword is entered into a search engine or a targeted website is visited, 180search Assistant opens a separate browser window displaying an advertiser's Web page that is related to the keyword or site.

4. ISTbar/AUpdate
ISTbar is a toolbar used for searching pornographic web sites that, when linked to, may display pornographic popups and hijack user homepages and Internet searches.

5. Transponder (vx2)
Transponder is an IE Browser Helper Object that monitors requested Web pages and data entered into online forms, then delivers targeted advertisements.

6. Internet Optimizer
Internet Optimizer hijacks error pages and redirects them to its own controlling server.

7. BlazeFind
BlazeFind may hijack any of the following: Web searches, home page and other Internet Explorer settings. BlazeFind may redirect Web searches through its own search engine and change default home pages to www.blazefind.com. This hijacker may also change other Internet Explorer settings.

8. Hot as Hell
Hot as Hell is a dialer program that dials toll numbers in order to access paid pornographic websites. Hot as Hell may disconnect a user's computer from a local Internet provider and reconnect the user to the Internet using an expensive toll or international phone number. It does not spy on the user, but it may accrue significant long distance phone charges. It may run in the background, hiding its presence.

9. Advanced Keylogger
Advanced Keylogger, a keystroke logger, has the ability to monitor keystrokes and take screenshots.

10. TIBS Dialer
TIBS Dialer is a dialer that may hijack a user's modem and dial toll numbers that access paid, pornographic websites.

This was first published in May 2005

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