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Spyware rampant in cyber space

Posted February. 26, 2001 19:14,   


The use of spyware, which makes possible the theft of personal information in cyber space, is reportedly growing at an alarming rate.

Spyware consists of computer programs designed to pilfer and transmit information like users` names, IP addresses, lists of websites and which banner advertisements were viewed.

It is included in software distributed free of charge, so individual information can be stolen without the user`s knowledge. Spyware differs from computer viruses, which can be treated with so-called vaccines, in that it is difficult to detect and even harder to defend against.

There are many open well-known software programs like `Godzilla,` `Cute file transfer protocol (FTP),` and `Get Right.` Newly discovered spyware includes contents searching engines like Alexa.com`s `Alexaba` and `FreeNSafe.`

On the many Internet `the spyware infested software list (SISL) sites` offering spyware information are a total of 772 software brands. Among them are open applied programs like `Absolute Telnet,` `MP3Player2000,` `Mail Alert,` `Media Player,` `MP3 Friend,` `NeatFTP,` and `Auction Explorer.` Most spyware is installed under contracts between software developing firms and marketing and information survey companies.

The Korea Information Protection Center said, ``Spyware is distributed in such a way that it is sent automatically when individual information is downloaded and a module is installed that can steal information.’’ ``If a user`s fee for paid contents is too high or his personal information is listed on sites he or she does not subscribe to, there is a high possibility that the spyware is responsible,`` the center said. An open program, ``OPTOUT`` (www.grc.com/optout.htm), developed by Gibson Research of the United States, may be used to search out and remove spyware.

Kim Tae-Han freewill@donga.com