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Security Response

Recognizing security risks

Created: 08 Sep 2006 07:00:00 GMT • Updated: 23 Jan 2014 18:57:13 GMT
Mimi Hoang's picture
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Symantec uses the term “security risks” to refer to programs such as adware, spyware, and other potentially unwanted programs. Our hands-on analysis of these programs results in risk designations of high, medium, or low. These risk ratings are calculated across four different categories:
• Performance impact: The measure of the effect that a particular program has on a system’s stability and speed.
• Ease of removal: The measure of the difficulty of removing the program from a system.
• Privacy: The type of information that is being captured and whether or not it is personally identifiable.
• Stealth: Measuring to what extent programs may install without the user noticing and/or try to remain hidden to evade detection and removal.

Unlike malicious code threats, which are automatically removed, a security risk program may be acceptable to one enterprise or home user and not acceptable to another. Classifying security risks helps guide users in making smart decisions about what programs they should keep on their systems and which ones they should remove. This is beneficial if users notice programs with unfamiliar names running on their computer, especially when the computer is behaving erratically. In this regard, refer to our online write-ups for more detailed information and steps on how to remove unwanted security risks.

Based on the number of customer submissions to Symantec the following top ten security risks were the most prevalent in the month of August:
1. Adware.Websearch
2. Adware.Hotbar
3. Adware.Purityscan
4. Adware.SpySheriff
5. Adware.QoolAid
6. Adware.Borlan
7. Adware.ZangoSearch
8. Adware.Look2Me
9. Adware.NDotNet
10. Adware.NetOptimizer

There are different methods of how these security risks can be installed onto a system. The easiest method is through enticing or deceiving users so that they consent to installing the program; however, the decision to install a program might change if a user understands the implications the program could have on their computing environment and/or privacy. Thus, I recommend that users use caution and refer to Symantec’s security write-ups before downloading and installing any unfamiliar programs.