Kids' websites worst for adware and browser hijackers

Just how much spyware does a PC pick up in one hour of surfing?

Just how much spyware does a PC pick up in one hour of surfing?

A brand new PC used to surf the internet for just one hour can expect to pick up almost 850 pieces of adware, spyware, browser hijackers and cookies, according to a new study.

More worryingly the research found that websites aimed at children are the worst for leaving visitors with bits of code capable of tracking browsing habits and relaying sensitive information to third parties.

Security firm Symantec used a PC with a fresh installation of Windows XP SP2 and spent one hour surfing well-known sports, kids, gaming, news, reseller, shopping and travel websites to monitor how many tracking bugs are picked up.

Kids websites were among the worst with 359 pieces of adware and three browser hijackers, which can change browser settings and produce pop-up ads for pornography.

Not surprisingly gaming websites also carry a high level of adware, spyware and browser hijackers, closely followed by travel sites.

More surprisingly shopping websites left the fewest traces on the PC with no adware, spyware or hijackers and just 10 cookies.

The figures back up recent research from Computer Associates on the increasing levels of Trojans, diallers, keyloggers and spyware found on users' PCs.

According to CA's findings the average user has 33 traces of adware and four traces of spyware on their machine.

Sam Curry, vice president of product management for CA eTrust, told silicon.com: "In all my time I have never seen an increase in the level of a particular threat like we have seen with spyware."