Kazaa Called ‘Worst’ Spyware Threat

Rhett Pardon
ISLANDIA, N.Y. — Peer-to-peer program Kazaa tops a list of “worst spyware threats,” according to Computer Associates International Inc.

The software developer called Kazaa a program prone to degrading network performance, consuming vast amounts of storage and creating security issues.

Kazaa represents a security risk “because you're opening your machine and file structures to another 3.5 million peers," said Simon Perry, vice president of security strategy for Computer Associates, who noted that Kazaa can be used to spread malware such as viruses.

Friday’s announcement was related to Computer Associates’ launch of its Spyware Information Center to combat unwanted software "pests" and eTrust PestPatrol Anti-Spyware r5, software designed to tackle unwanted spyware, adware and Trojan horses.

Islandia, N.Y.-based Computer Associates said other top threats include GameSpy Arcade, which installs adware; Ezula's TopText reference tool, which installs advertisements on user PCs; Adopt.Hotbar.com, which tracks Internet usage patterns; and Download Accelerator Plus, which changes web browser settings, displays pop-under ads and transmits data to a website without user permission.

Kazaa has a high "clot” of 50, a measurement of how many registry entries, files and directories an application adds, according to Computer Associates. The highest clot factor in the top five is GameSpy Arcade, at 128.

The company said the most rapidly spreading pests were Gator/GAIN/Claria and Grokster. "People are worried about privacy, but they don't realize that these applications aren't just passively serving ads, they're tracking where you go," Perry said.

Computer Associates is providing a free service for consumers to scan their computers for spyware and other pests here.