McAfee: Celebrities Are A Bigger Spyware Lure Than Sex

Filed under: — By Aviran Mordo @ 9:52 am

McAfee research shows that adware and spyware distributors abuse the affiliate marketing programs of legitimate companies. In a paper from McAfee Avert Labs entitled, “Adware and Spyware: Unraveling the Financial Web.” McAfee research highlights the financial incentives fueling the rise of adware and spyware, the prevalence of adware and spyware, and culprits behind the problem.

In addition, adware distributors use front companies and Web sites to reach unsuspecting users and intermediaries, meaning that legitimate sites are finding themselves tied to known spyware distributors. Programs then install themselves on a user’s machine, often as the trade-off for a piece of “free” software, and are used to collect marketing data and distribute targeted advertising.

Key research findings from the paper include:

  • Celebrities are a bigger lure than sex. The most prolific distributors of adware are star/celebrity Web sites — not the commonly believed adult and pornography Web sites, according to McAfee SiteAdvisor(TM).
  • The prevalence of adware and spyware is increasing at an exponential rate. By August 2006, there were approximately 450 adware families with more than 4,000 variants.
  • A recent survey by McAfee SiteAdvisor found that 97% of Internet users could not differentiate safe from unsafe sites, meaning that the majority of users are just one click away from downloading potentially unwanted programs.
  • The adware business model is lucrative. A recent criminal indictment alleged that Jeanson James Ancheta, a convicted bot-herder, received $150 per each 1,000 infected computers.


One Response to “McAfee: Celebrities Are A Bigger Spyware Lure Than Sex”

  1. What? Says:

    That’s an outrage! I can’t believe they would be involved in such shady spyware practices. Shame on them!

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