Even as spyware has become a dirty word and users have been bombarded with stories about its pervasive, pernicious nature, criminals have dramatically expanded their distribution channels and infected an overwhelming majority of enterprise PCs, anti-spyware vendor Webroot said Tuesday as it rolled out its latest stats.
The number of malicious sites hosting spyware has quadrupled since the start of the year, said Richard Stiennon, Webroot's director of threat research, and now number over 300,000 URLs.
On average, enterprise PCs have 27 pieces of spyware on their hard drives, a 19 percent increase in the last quarter alone, while a whopping 80 percent of corporate computers host at least one instance of unwanted software, whether that's adware, spyware, or a Trojan horse.
Worse, said Stiennon, evidence is accumulating that spyware is becoming more malicious than ever.
"The actual maliciousness of it is increasing," he noted. "There's simply more malicious activity per piece of spyware. They're not satisfied with making their seven cents a click by flooding systems with adware; now they're focusing on identity theft, sometimes from within an organization. Spyware's being used by insiders to, in essence, hack their employer or boss."