Security fears over spyware

Tuesday, 23 December 2003, 9:54 AM EST

Consumers are under threat from a devious form of software that could become as rampant as spam. Mike Barton reports.

Legislation may be introduced by the Federal Government to combat a new breed of software that tracks consumer details and can lead to identity theft, say privacy and internet experts.

The internet industry will lobby for the new laws, which are being advocated by the federal Privacy Commissioner, to fight "spyware" - sneaky software or files that install without a user's consent.

Consumers buying computers and broadband connections this Christmas may have to pay more for extra security and privacy software. Experts have warned that spyware may leave consumers exposed unless they get extra anti-virus software to ensure their private information doesn't end up on the internet.

Peter Coroneos, chief executive of the Internet Industry Association, said the clampdown on junk mail had led spammers to find new ways to exploit computer vulnerabilities.

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