Adware in 2008

It's no secret that adware has become a huge problem for a number of computer users.  What may be surprising is how much of an impact this infection has already had on the year of 2008.  According to a First Quarter Malware Analysis and Detection Report from Panda Software, adware was behind 28.58% of all computer infections, labeling it as the leading cause of infections during the first three months of 2008.  Following closely behind were Trojans horses which caused 25.46% of all infections.  The numbers dropped significantly following adware and Trojans with worms accounting for 9.94%.

2008 Adware Culprits

The most active type of adware for the quarter was Comet, trailed by the following:


           SaveNow (adware/spyware)

           Starware (adware/spyware)


           Virtumonde (adware/spyware)

According to security experts, the new strains of malware put into circulation indicate the evolution of malicious coders.  The programs studied are much more complex than before, making the process of detection quite difficult for security developers.  When these companies are not able to update their signature files in time, the end-users are left exposed to adware and a wide range of threats. 

They also report that adware is increasingly becoming a huge threat to handheld devices such as cell phones, smartphones and iPhones.  The features and behavior are similar to the malicious codes planted into a computer.  These days, is it not uncommon for a cell phone user to encounter spam text messages or even pop-up advertisements.  This often leads to Trojans designed to thieve personal information such as phone numbers,instant messaging contacts, email addresses and passwords.  In fact, adware and Trojans make up more than 60% of all cell phone infections, proving that these exploits have quickly become much more advanced. 

The most common impact malware has on a cell phone includes blocking access to certain features, battery consumption, sending of SMS (Short Messaging Service) to high-rate phone numbers, the deleting of messages or stealing of phone numbers.  

Adware in MP3 Players

Adware has indeed been quite busy in 2008.  McAfee, one the leading names in security software, recently reported a large increase in fraudulent MP3 music files circulating on numerous peer-to-peer networks.  These files appear to be typical audio recordings, but are actually adware programs attempting to download Trojans and other types of malware.  When the file is run, there is no content and no music plays.  Instead, the adware is executed and you are redirected to a website that encourages you to download their media player software, which is actually a Trojan program.  According to the McAfee, the program claims not to support any advertisements in it's End-User License Agreement, yet pop-ups are displayed shortly after installation.   

Adware has claimed many victims over the years and is getting off to a fast start in 2008.  If you do not want to be the next statistic, it is important to remain cautious of the sites you visit and the files you download from the internet.  Furthermore, be sure to keep your security software updated with the latest threat definitions.  By doing this, you will be able to stay one step ahead of the malicious software coders. 

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