Adware has become the most prolific type of spware

Almost 64 percent of spyware detected in January by ActiveScan, the online solution from Panda Software, was adware. There are currently three sub-categories of spyware: spyware itself, adware and PUPs. Adware is a type of spyware that displays adverts on infected computers using pop-ups, banners, etc.

Spyware compiles information about users’ Internet activity, such as websites visited, searches made, etc, but does not display any adverts. This sub-category was responsible for just over 6.5 percent of all spyware detections in January.

The third sub-category is PUPs. Although not strictly speaking spyware, PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs) are classed as such given their similar behavior. These programs are installed without users’ knowledge and can interfere with the use of a computer. PUPs accounted for over 26 percent of spyware detections.

The ranking of the most active spyware in January once again saw Gator in first place.  This adware offers free use of an application in turn for displaying certain ads.  Some versions of Gator even replace banners on websites visited for ones the malicious code creates itself.

Lop, the second adware in the list, has jumped from the eighth place last month to second place in January.  It installs a search window in Internet Explorer and displays a stream of pop-up ads.  This malicious code also creates shortcuts to websites on the desktop and in the “Favorites’ section and it changes the browser home page for the page of the company that created the code.

In third place in the Top Ten is MyWebSearch, a PUP that adds a search bar to Internet Explorer. This search bar will then only return results from certain search engines such as Ask or Google.

Winantivirus2006, in fourth place, refers to a family with several variants.  One of these is a PUP that exploits vulnerabilities in file or application formats to download other malware variants such as the Downloader.LHW Trojan. Another variant of Winantivirus2006 is a type of adware.

WUpd is adware designed to collect information about users’ Internet activity (websites visited, searches made-¦) It then uses that information to display pop-up ads specifically related to personal preferences.  WUpd can update itself whenever there is a new version available.

nCase, which has dropped from the third place it held last month to sixth position, is a type of adware that runs in the background and displays ads connected with the keywords the user has entered while using the Internet. SaveNow, which is in seventh place, is another adware program that offers information about the weather in exchange for the user viewing certain adverts.
VideoActiveXObject, the next malicious code on the list, is designed to register users’ browsing habits and show them ads in accordance with their preferences. This adware also connects to certain websites to download malware onto compromised computers.

Finally, this month’s ranking is completed by Cws and SpySheriff, two examples of adware that use banners, pop-ups, etc, to display adverts for their creators or for third parties.

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