Beware spyware

By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2003-12-22 Print this article Print

Like spam, spyware developed from an annoyance to a full-fledged problem in 2003. Spyware violates privacy, damages systems and adds to the workload of IT staff.

Since spyware vendors lack the big-company guns that prevented meaningful action against spam, we might see some real advances at stopping spyware. Improved technologies will help users and companies root it out of systems, and you may even see effective legislation to block its ability to sneak onto systems.

While many users were worrying about stealth software getting on their systems and spying on them, many others had to worry about software they did install spying on them and controlling how they used it. Like a bloodsucking vampire, product activation has risen from the dead and sunk its teeth into unsuspecting software users.

I expect the battle against activation to follow the same trajectory as earlier fights against anti-piracy measures. Companies that used activation this year will see significant backlash from customers, resulting in lost sales and bad publicity. Many vendors will remove activation from their products, saving us from its evil at least until the next mad bean counter summons it from the grave.

Unfortunately, one evil that wont succumb next year is the scourge of viruses, worms and security holes. The record number of problems seen in 2003 werent the wake-up call they should have been; while lots of lip service will be paid to improving security, everything will stay the same.

Next page: The rise of Linux as a core enterprise platform

Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr RapozaÔÇÖs current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.

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