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Spyware is the biggest concern of security administrators

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January 28, 2005

Providing various network security solutions for small and mid-sized businesses, WatchGuard Technologies surveyed 686 Internet security administrators and IT managers in the US, during December 2004 and January 2005, and asked what the biggest security threats are to their networks, and just how concerned (or lack thereof) are other company employees in all of this.

Spyware is by far the biggest concern of security administrators and IT managers. Over two-thirds of respondents pick it as the greatest security threat, compared to 23% who say viruses and 10% who say phishing.

Unfortunately, respondents also feel least protected from this serious threat — 66% say they feel least protected against spyware, compared to 27% who feel the same about phishing and 7% who feel the least protected against viruses.

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Respondents say that executives at their companies are less concerned about spyware and more concerned about viruses, demonstrating a gap in their awareness of the latest online threats.

Over 50% of executives are most concerned about viruses, while 40% are feel spyware constitutes the biggest threat and 7% choose phishing.

Though viruses have been a threat for a number of years, threats from spyware are a relatively recent development, and have not yet entered the radar of typically less-tech savvy executives.

Most users in the respondents' organizations are also unaware of the threat of spyware. Fully 50% of security administrators and IT managers say that less than 25% of users are aware of spyware, and only 7% say that all of the users at their company have knowledge of spyware.

The threat posed by spyware has increased in the minds of IT staff in the past year, as it's gotten more widespread and sophisticated.

For example, in a survey taken in February 2004 by Secure Computing Corporation, about 60% of IT managers said that the threat of data loss to spyware was merely "minor", and 7% said it was no problem.

Source: eMarketer


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