According to Mogull, spyware is becoming more elusive and malicious, and is potentially a far greater threat to computer users than the various types of viruses will ever be. "Spyware is in the eye of the beholder. You have to go a website or download software - it needs human interaction," says Mogull. "Some spyware can often be quite useful and is quite OK, as long as it does not alter the way a computer operates and as long as the user knows that it has been loaded - a cookie could be considered spyware."
Mogull says there are some particularly nasty spyware applications now in circulation that go way beyond the boundaries of commercial acceptability and are well into the realm of criminal intrusion. Mogull says, "There are spyware applications out there such as coolwebsearch that randomly sends you to different web sites. Another one is tvmedia, which creates a new user on your computer and if you try to delete it in safe mode, it locks you out of your computer. These applications are almost impossible to get off your computer and enterprises that get infected will usually re-image your system."
Mogull says that enterprises and vendors are now only just beginning to come to grips with spyware. He says, "New enterprise anti-spyware tools are beginning to emerge, such as Bluecoat, which has multi-layered defences, such as blocking known websites and verifying signatures. Desktop solutions are problematic because users don't want to load unnecessary new software but there are products such as Lavasoft, McAfee, Pest Patrol, Web Root and Spybot."
Users who have switched to the FireFox browser should not take to much comfort, according to Mogull. "FireFox is more secure only because it is not being targeted yet."