Security software firm McAfee has warned that spyware is getting out of control and "morphing" into new threats.
The McAfee "Spyware: A Morphing Campaign" report examines the evolution of adware and spyware, and details the current threats to society.
The McAfee report details how spyware has become a financially-driven business, and is increasingly used in cybercrime and even domestic violence cases.
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Using spyware for surveillance in cases of domestic abuse is a serious matter, says the report. Installing software to track and control an unaware victim's computer has social and legal implications.
There is a strong movement within the US National Network to End Domestic Violence to educate victims and the general public about safe computing.
Many security companies have made sizable monetary donations to this organisation to assist in education and to provide aid for securing networks within shelters for victims of domestic violence.
Gartner estimates that by 2010, 70% of all IT security incidents will be spyware-related. McAfee's Avert Labs report that rootkits, which are used to hide spyware, are on the rise, and more than 12,000 variants exist in the wild.