International Data Corp. (IDC), a major industry analyst firm based in Framingham, Mass., reports that 67 percent of all computers are infected with some form of spyware. Consumer machines make up more of that percentage than enterprise systems.
The deluge of spyware can damage legitimate software, slow network performance and hinder employee productivity, according to IDC analysts.
''Today, more malicious spyware can easily infiltrate corporate firewalls,'' says Brian Burke, research manager for Security Products at IDC. ''These programs make their way into the corporate Intranet under the guise of less-threatening network traffic and, once in, they can wreak havoc.''
Spyware, also known as adWare, malware and scumware, is an insidious, digital infection that secretly gathers information about a person or a company and relays it back to advertisers or hackers. Spyware can infect a computer through a virus or through the installation of new software.
Spyware aids identity theft and data corruption, and tracks users' online activities without their knowledge.
According to IDC, the need to find and uninstall these pieces of parasitic software is driving the anti-spyware market. The industry analyst firm predicts that the market, which had $12 million revenues in 2003, will skyrocket to $305 million by 2008.
More information on spyware and adware removal and prevention is available at Intranet Journal's Spyware Guide.