Viruses and spam have become a more significant security threat than terrorist attacks, according to a network security survey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit for AT&T, with 92 percent of responding senior executives rating viruses and worms as the foremost hazard to their business today.
The survey recorded the views of 256 senior executives worldwide on the future of corporate networking, concluding that security is now the "single most critical attribute corporate networks", moving up from its number two slot in 2003.
With viruses and worms coming in as the most "significant threat" reported by respondents; hackers (50 percent), accidental damage (40 percent) and spam (36) followed in the ratings.
Over 80 percent of respondents reported that the majority of attacks originate internally, with 78 percent admitting to have opened an e-mail attachment from an unknown source.
The survey also showed an increase in network security spending, citing a study undertaken by Citigroup's Smith Barney it stated "security now ranks second as a target of incremental spending, behind only applications".
The survey showed that respondents devoted an average of 9 percent of the IT budget to security in 2002 rising to 11 percent in 2003, with an expectation to reach 13 percent this year.
Worldwide security spending totalled US$13.3 billion in 2003, according to the survey, with a predicted spend total of US$15.8 billion in 2004.