An independent report released on Wednesday has forecast massive growth in the amount spent by businesses on anti-spyware products over the next few years.
The report, Corporate Anti-Spyware Market 2005-2009 by the Radicati Group, cites growing corporate concern over spyware designed to steal information. There is also concern about worker productivity being inhibited by the slow performance of machines infested with spyware.
The report predicts that the number of corporate users with anti-spyware tools will grow from 16 million users in 2005 to 540 million users in 2009. It also says the costs could rise to as much as $249 (£139) per user, as IT departments are swamped by users whose computers have been infected by spyware.
"Human capital costs can skyrocket as administrators are forced to re-image computers inundated with spyware and help-desk staff manage end users frustrated with slowdowns... caused by spyware," said Radicati.
Due to the growth in use of corporate anti-spyware hardware and software products, revenues are predicted to increase over the next four years from $103m to over $1bn.
However, anti-spyware vendors may not be in a position to take full advantage of this boom. The report found that the anti-spyware industry is suffering from a lack of organisation. In February the Consortium of Anti-Spyware Technology vendors collapsed in acrimony after Webroot, Aluria, and Pestcontrol withdrew from the group. They were mainly protesting against the inclusion in the group of 180solutions, a company which produces both adware and anti-spyware products.
The nascent Anti-Spyware Coalition was formed in June 2005, but this organisation is still in its formative stages, and so "has yet to have any noticeable impact upon the industry" according to the report.
There is also confusion about the definitions of spyware and adware. With no standard definition that companies can agree on, "vendors often advertise questionable spyware blocking statistics that can confuse potential customers and create unfair comparisons between products," warned the report.