Spyware threat not recognised

Survey: Most IT administrators believe that spyware is a greater threat to their organisation than viruses, but senior executives have not yet caught up

Two out of three IT managers and administrators recognise spyware as the biggest threat to the integrity of their networks over the next year, according to a survey published on Monday by security specialists WatchGuard.

According to the survey, almost as many administrators (65 percent) admit that their networks have less protection against spyware than they do against viruses and phishing attacks. However, only 38 percent of those questioned said senior executives agreed.

The survey revealed that 54 percent of senior executives are still focused on virus threats, with only 38 percent believing that spyware is a top priority.

Mark Stevens, chief strategy officer at WatchGuard, said that the survey reveals that although IT administrators are aware of the threat from spyware, senior executives are not.

"The alignment of security goals between IT managers and executive decision-makers is crucial to network protection. This survey shows the real trepidation IT managers have for spyware, while many others in their organisation are unfamiliar to the threat," said Stevens.

Vincent Gullotto, vice president of AVERT, McAfee's antivirus response labs, predicted last year that the biggest problem facing both home and corporate users this year would be spyware and adware.

"Adware and spyware have taken up the majority of my team's time and a majority of our customer's time. You don't always hear about it because corporates don't like to tell and you don't hear so much from consumers because they don't get a chance to tell," said Gullotto.

Various security companies have estimated that between 40 and 90 percent of all corporate desktops contain some kind of spyware.

Munir Kotadia reported from Sydney for ZDNet Australia. For more ZDNet Australia stories, click here.

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