Pests can be spyware, which record keystrokes and steal passwords, and adware, which report on Web-surfing activity. These programs can be introduced when people install contaminated apps or even when they simply scout around the Internet. And, worse, they are adept at sneaking past anti-virus, intrusion detection, and firewall applications when people surf the Web or install certain apps.
According to the security firm PestPatrol, pests hand to hackers E-mail addresses and passwords, intrude on remote computers logged into VPNs, corrupt files, and even use a person's desktop video camera to secretly snap and collect pictures.
PestPatrol says it has collected Trojan horses, spies, and other hacking tools culled from the pests found on the systems of its 200,000 customers. The results can be found here.
Pete Lindstrom, research director with Spire Security says network administrators need to take pests seriously. "They can cause significant problems that result in data theft, drained resources, increased help-desk calls, wasted bandwidth, and invasion of privacy."