Young males aged 18 to 29 are at the highest risk of being infected with spyware according to new research conducted by anti-spyware company Webroot Software Inc., in co-operation with market research solutions provider GMI.
A survey of over 600 UK respondents showed that young men are significantly more likely to be infected with spyware than their female counterparts.
The likelihood of infection was increased by the risky online behaviour of young males, such as opening instant messages (66%), downloading files (65%) and visiting adult entertainment sites (56%).
Young women, however, reported that their web browsing is limited to much safer activities, with over 91% stating they had never visited an adult entertainment site and 61% had never clicked on pop-up ads.
This survey follows the recent State of Spyware report issued by Webroot that found Britain to have the highest spyware infection rate within the EU. With an average of 30.5 pieces of spyware detected on every consumer PC and 89% of consumer PCs infected with some form of spyware, this is clearly a major threat to every user.
“The chances of becoming infected with spyware rapidly increase when performing certain online behaviour, such as visiting adult entertainment sites or social networking sites such as MySpace.com, “ said David Moll, CEO of Webroot. “These sites have become a breeding ground for spyware.”
Symptoms of spyware infection can go completely unnoticed for months, silently recording personal information such as passwords and online banking data. It is often not until users start seeing symptoms that they take action, which can often be too late.
The symptoms of infection can also vary significantly. 69% of users reported sluggish PC performance, whilst almost 50% experienced an increase in pop up ads. Other symptoms include unidentified telephone charges, mysterious search results, unexplained homepage changes and unusually slow Internet access.