Freeware: The new threat to company security

SMEs especially at risk...

SMEs especially at risk...

Companies are being advised not to download freeware because it may prove a serious security risk. Corporate networks could be at risk from viruses and Trojans hidden inside freeware and shareware, which can be downloaded from the internet. SMEs (small to medium-sized enterprises) are particularly vulnerable as they are likely to use some type of free software because of the need to cut down IT costs. A spokesman from security monitoring company Websense said: "Companies are putting their network at risk by allowing the use of freeware. There have been instances when popular file-sharing downloads and certain freeware were found to carry Trojan horse software that took over parts of a user's computer." Websense reported that the number of freeware and shareware sites on the internet has increased dramatically over the past years, now totalling around 4,300. These sites can contain almost any type of application, from games to email software. IT managers waste billions of pounds annually in lost productivity responding to freeware and shareware inquiries within the company, Websense claims. The security specialist advised IT staff to introduce a company wide security policy for using freeware.