Websense Inc is offering customers the opportunity to block “spyware”, the new breed of desktop software that surreptitiously sends data from users’ computers to internet servers for marketing purposes.
The company, known for its web content filtering gateway, has added a spyware category to its $5-per-seat Premium Group III database. Websense users that subscribe to the PGIII database will be able to stop spyware sending data and identify which employees have the software installed on their PCs.
Websense said it can identify spyware makers’ data collection servers due to the WebCatcher feature in its gateway, which sends the addresses of uncategorized web servers back to Websense when employees access them. When Websense identifies a new spyware collection point, it adds the address to PGIII.
Spyware generally installs itself via unconventional means, such as automatically from a web site or by piggybacking on other consumer software such as file-trading software. Websense said browsing add-ons such as Gator and BonziBuddy can be considered spyware.
These applications collect user surfing patterns and sometimes keystrokes and send the information to servers to target advertising to users’ desktops. Websense said that in a test, a collection of 12 PCs installed with spyware sent 340MB of data over port 80 back channels over the space of a month.