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Spyware and Adware Rick Carback 9/18/2005

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2 Spyware and Adware Rick Carback 9/18/2005

3 What is Adware? Advertising supported software Goes beyond the advertising found in shareware or freeware May run without user knowledge Shows unwanted advertisements Required by terms of use

4 What is Spyware? May be bundled or included with other software or install itself through other means Sends information about host computer back to a remote system or user Runs without user knowledge

5 Adware vs. Spyware Adware typically only annoys the user while Spyware will annoy and collect information to be sent back to the creator. Generally speaking Spyware is seen as more invasive and subversive Adware. Not all Adware and Spyware can be considered bad.

6 Spyware and Adware that isn’t bad? What? Some desirable applications, like kazaa, require the bundled adware to be running in order to work Monitoring child internet access Some people like targeted advertising

7 Why Adware and Spyware? Keeping installed software up to date Preventing software piracy Preventing illegal or unacceptable use of installed software Gathering of Marketing Information Annoying Advertisement Complete Privacy Invasion Illegal or Unacceptable use of resources Password, e-mail, and username harvesting

8 How does it get there? Installation required by Terms of use for other software –Embedded –Bundled Exploitation of browser or operating system vulnerability Pure deception

9 What does Spyware do? Usually hides from user once installed Uses central server or acts as a central server to send the information gathered May install other software or remove competitors software Targeted popup ads from observed website visits

10 More Spyware Operations Removes advertisements and replaces them with its own Alters search engine results Sends user to advertisers page instead of that requested

11 Spyware Operations (cont.) May direct machine to participate in a coordinated DOS or other attack Any information entered may be tracked –Extortion –Identity Theft

12 Effects of Spyware Complete Security breach Abuse of computer resources –Computer becomes unreliable (slows down or crashes) –Computational power may be sold by spyware author –Download, store, and serve illegal or unwanted content

13 Examples of Adware/Spyware






19 Security Implications of Adware/Spyware Insecurities in Adware/Spyware applications mean the user is at risk Spyware can give an attacker complete control

20 Symptoms of Infected machines Unusually long browser startup times Reset homepage on browser Computer and Internet response is sluggish Unexplained popup messages Ads of competitors on the visited website System instability

21 Removing Spyware Clicking remove almost never works Customized tools for specific spyware applications More general Anti-spyware Tools are available that work much like Anti-virus software.






27 Avoiding Adware and Spyware Purchasing Adware free version Using free software Use Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware, and Firewall applications



30 Stopping Spyware Internet Service Provider monitoring and blocking tools (WebTap) Better Operating System Design –Mac OS X and Linux are mostly adware free –SE Linux could prevent it altogether (processes do NOT have the same privileges as the user running them) Rise of the Internet generation

31 References Adware and Spyware: A growing privacy and security problem, David Saurino, SANS GSEC 2004.

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