SYMANTEC has released results of a spyware survey along with a new version of its consumer internet security range designed to tackle the threat.
The survey polled 200 New Zealand consumers and 300 Australians and was conducted by Bread and Butter Research.
It found spyware affected 59% of respondents, while 85% reported incidences of adware.
The current version of Symantec’s Norton Internet Security does not include spyware protection, says Norman Kohlberger, Symantec’s Auckland-based senior consumer product manager for Asia-Pacific.
“We could detect spyware, but could not remove it,” he says.
Therefore the company is releasing an antispyware edition of the suite in June ahead of the 2006 version of the software, due later this year.
The move comes as the threat of spyware rises along with the exponential growth of the internet, says Kohlberger.
“There is a large amount of personal information online. There is now a real threat to privacy online,” he says
“At worst spyware could lead to identify theft. People do not know if their private or confidential information has been breached until it is too late.”
This causes concern as the survey found most people use the internet for email and personal banking, with 68% of New Zealanders saying they have supplied personal details such as bank account or credit card numbers online, says Kohlberger.
Another worry is that more people in the survey reported cases of adware than spyware. “Spyware is more hidden and can be more harmful because it is less visible,” he says.
Meanwhile, 44% reported they had experienced phishing attempts, but Kohlberger says some people may be unaware that their personal details may have been obtained without their permission.
“Six percent of New Zealanders reported being victims of online fraud, but the actual figure could be higher,” he says. Symantec’s aim with the new Norton offering is to provide a comprehensive solution to spyware, while keeping complexity to a minimum, he says.