University of Washington Spyware Study Results

In a recent University of Washington paper (see Sources below), the results of a five month study (May 2005 to October 2005) of the state of spyware on the Internet were documented.  The following is a summary of the researchers’ conclusions:

  1. In October 2005, the researchers crawled 20 million URLs.  Of that number, 19% contained executable programs.  5.5% of the executables and 4.4% of the domains contained piggy-backed spyware.  Piggy-backed spyware is code that is attached to a file a user downloads from a web site.
  2. Although most of the spyware turned out to be adware, 14% of the spyware contained potentially malicious code.  This malware included trojans and dialers.
  3. Sites specializing in pirated intellectual property have the highest percentage of drive-by attacks (malware downloaded without the user’s knowledge just by visiting the site).  Celebrity sites were a close second.
  4. There was a 93% reduction in pages carrying drive-by attacks during the five months of the study.  But don’t uninstall your anti-spyware software yet.  The researchers concluded that there’s still enough malicious spyware to go around.


Author:  Tom Olzak


A Crawler-based Study of Spyware on the Web, University of Washington

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