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Time to Spring clean your computer: [National internet body launches campaign to counter spyware]

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Internet Industry Association

Time to Spring Clean Your Computer: IIA Campaign Launch 1 September 2005.

The Internet Industry Association today launched a national campaign to help rid the nation's computers from the danger of spyware.

The IIA campaign is directed at all Australian internet users - corporate, small business and home users alike.

Based on international and domestic information, the IIA now believes that a significant proportion of computers connected to the internet in Australia may have some form of spyware installed - that is, software that is unwittingly installed and tracks user behaviour or irresponsibly modifies their system.

In announcing the initiative, IIA chief executive, Peter Coroneos stated: "While not all spyware is malicious, some of it is. This creates a real risk of identity theft for unsuspecting users. We feel it is our responsibility to inform users and empower them against the threat."

"We are concerned that many internet users do not know they have spyware on their computers," he added.

"Indeed, one of the characteristics of spyware is the fact that it is installed without your knowledge or consent. It therefore violates your privacy and can be used to steal your personal information or turn your computer into a remote-controlled spam generator."

"Without the proper tools, spyware can be very hard to remove and you can often not be certain it has been entirely eliminated. Our campaign is designed to raise awareness about the problem and direct users to solutions that will protect them."

"People should suspect they have spyware installed if their machine is running slower than usual, crashes, freezes or has system errors without explanation, or where their browser is captured (eg. your home page changes). Other signs of spyware include an unexplained bombardment of popup ads or an increase in the incidence of spam. A badly compromised machine is no longer under the control of the user, but can be used by hackers to attack other machines as part of what is known as a 'zombie botnet'."

"There are many levels to the spyware problem, some extremely serious," said Mr Coroneos.

"Broadband users are potentially more at risk since their machines are always on, and a compromised computer on broadband can become a vehicle for spam attacks without the user even realising. Fortunately, there are good solutions at hand. The entire point of our campaign is not to frighten people, but to empower and protect

them so they don't fall victim to this phenomenon. We are doing this to make the

internet safer for all Australians."

The IIA's National Anti-spyware Campaign has two main elements:

1. a series of fact sheets informing internet users about what spyware is, how it gets on your computer, how you remove it and how you prevent re-infection

2. a national product trial of low cost anti-spyware software solutions to cleanse machines and protect them from infection.

The campaign page is at which directs users to the IIA security portal where the factsheets and tools can be found. The IIA has timed the launch of its campaign to co-incide with the release of a new publication from the Federal government entitled 'Taking Care of Spyware', a guide to help Australians protect themselves against spyware on the Internet.

The IIA has been working closely with the Federal government in its review of applicable legislation and in developing advice for users. This joint industry/government collaboration is fundamental to ensuring that all Australians are

afforded the best possible protections against spyware.