There are a lot of differing opinions on what the definitions of Parasiteware
Spyware, Adware and Malware should be.
In order to help you we have provided brief definitions in this miniature
Actiance considers IM, P2P and spyware part of a larger, fast-growing set of unsanctioned applications called "Greynets." Greynet applications are downloaded and installed on end user systems, without expressed permission from, or awareness by IT (and often without even the end user's awareness - as with spyware) and then use evasive encryption and port agility techniques to traverse the network. Greynet applications include instant messaging, P2P file sharing, web conferencing, SKYPE, web mail and adware/spyware and anonymizers.
Greynets Market Study
Actiance Communications and NewDiligence, a market research company, conducted a Greynets Research Study compiling data from 622 IT managers and 564 end users across small, medium and large businesses to learn about the corporate use of Greynets and the impact of spyware and virus incidents within organizations. (Data collected May through July of 2005.) Key findings can be found below.
Enterprises are spending on average $130,000 per month in IT time fighting spyware problems.
In general, end users believe they have the right to install Greynet applications at the workplace. They also believe IT has any security issues associated with Greynets under control. 87% of the same end users reported a spyware or virus problem resulting in slow internet response times, pop up ads and corrupted files.
Among IT managers who have rolled out perimeter security, consisting of gateway AV, URL filtering and IDS/IDP, 77% have had either a virus or spyware incident in the past 6 months.
According to the research findings within the next 6 months virtually all end users will have deployed some type of Greynet application and 8 in 10 end users (78%) now use one or more Greynet applications; based on stated intentions this number will rise to 93% in the next 6 months.
3 in 10 IT managers who experienced a virus incident, report that IM has been associated with such occurrences. A similar proportion report that IM has been associated with spyware.
Expected Growth and Adoption of Greynet Applications By Endusers
Number of Greynet Apps In Use At Work Locations
Source: Actiance Greynets Research Study, Aug 2005
ParasiteWare is the term for any Adware that by default overwrites certain
affiliate tracking links. These tracking links are used by webmasters to sell
products and to help fund websites. The controversy is centered on companies
like WhenU, eBates, and Top Moxie, a popular maker of Adware applications. These
companies have release their software to assist users in getting credit for
rebates, cash back shopping, or contributions to funds. To the end user ParasiteWare
represents little in the way of a security threat.
Adware, also known as an Adbot, can do
a number of things from profile your online surfing and spending habits to popping
up annoying ad windows as you surf. In some cases Adware has been bundled (i.e.
peer-to-peer file swapping products) with other software without the user's
knowledge or slipped in the fine print of a EULA (End User License Agreement).
Not all Adware is bad, but often users are annoyed by adware's intrusive behavior.
Keep in mind that by removing Adware sometimes the program it came bundled with
for free may stop functioning. Some Adware, dubbed a "BackDoor Santa"
may not perform any activity other then profile a user's surfing activity for
AdWare can be obnoxious in that it performs "drive-by downloads".
Drive-by downloads are accomplished by providing a misleading dialogue box or
other methods of stealth installation. Many times users have no idea they have
installed the application. Often Adware makers make their application difficult
A "EULA" or End User License Agreement is the agreement you accept
when you click "OK" or "Continue" when you are installing
software. Many users never bother to read the EULA.
It is imperative to actually read this agreement before you install any software.
No matter how tedious the EULA, you should be able to find out the intent BEFORE
you install the software. If you have questions about the EULA- e-mail the company
and ask them for clarification.
Spyware is potentially more dangerous
beast than Adware because it can record your keystrokes, history, passwords,
and other confidential and private information. Spyware is often sold as a spouse monitor,
child monitor, a surveillance tool or simply as a tool to spy on users to gain
unauthorized access. Spyware is also known as: snoopware, PC surveillance, key
logger, system recorders, Parental control software, PC recorder, Detective
software and Internet monitoring software.
Spyware covertly gathers user information and activity without the user's knowledge.
Spy software can record your keystrokes as you type them, passwords, credit
card numbers, sensitive information, where you surf, chat logs, and can even
take random screenshots of your activity. Basically whatever you do on the computer
is completely viewable by the spy. You do not have to be connected to the Internet
to be spied upon.
The latest permutations of Spyware include the use of routines to mail out
user activity via e-mail or posting information to the web where the spy can
view it at their leisure. Also many spyware vendors use "stealth routines"
and "polymorphic" (meaning to change" techniques to avoid detection
and removal by popular anti-spy software. In some cases Spyware vendors have
went as far as to counter-attack anti-spy packages by attempting to break their
use. In addition they may use routines to re-install the spyware application
after it has been detected.
Malware is slang for malicious software. Malware is software designed specifically
to disrupt a computer system. A trojan horse
, worm or a virus
could be classified as Malware. Some advertising software can be malicious in
that it can try to re-install itself after you remove it.
For the purpose of simplicity Malware is software specifically engineered to
damage your machine or interrupt the normal computing environment.
Examples of Malware include:
Hijackers are applications that attempt
to usurp control of the user's home page and reset it with one of the hijackers
choosing. They are a low security threat, but obnoxious. Most Hijackers use
stealth techniques or trick dialogue boxes to perform installation.
A dialer is a type of software used by
pornographic vendors. Once dialer software is downloaded the user is disconnected
from their modem's usual Internet service provider and another phone number
and the user is billed. While dialers do not spy on users they are malevolent
in nature because they can cause huge financial harm to the victim.