Widgets causing problems for PC users

I must lead a sheltered life, as when I saw a newspaper advert for the courier company UPS the other week, I was baffled by the references to computer widgets, until I looked online and realised it was a reference to a new generation of computer applets.

It now seems that widgets are the latest software gizmos to hit the Net, with everyone and their granny seemingly offering the beasties to their online customers.

But these widgets are potentially bad news when it comes to IT security as they can neatly side-step most forms of protection.

Finjan, the Web security specialist, recently warned about widgets and IT security in its quarterly trends report, noting that, whilst they are small applets, they have all the power of a full-blown software application, but can fly under the radar of conventional IT security software.

In total, Finjan found 3,720 widgets available on Google.com, 3,197 on Apple.com and 3,959 on Facebook.com. And that's just for starters, as no-one knows how many third party widgets there are and how many of these contain security flaws.

Since many widgets are Javascript based and only a few IT security applications can spot a widget being installed, I think we could be looking at a serious potential problem.

Providing, of course, you know what a widget is. Which I didn't until quite recently...