Spies like us

Blue Coat claims that spyware is the biggest security threat in IT, in the light of worrying research from IDC. The research firm claims that 90% of US PCs are infected by spyware.

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By  Simon Duddy Published  December 15, 2004

Blue Coat claims that IT managers must put dealing with spyware at the top of their agendas for 2005 as the problem looks set to skyrocket in the coming years, compromising company data. The warning comes in the light of new research from IDC citing up to two-thirds (67 per cent) of PCs as potentially affected by the damaging software. Spyware is intrusive software installed secretly onto a PC to clandestinely gather information about the user and relay it to interested third parties. It is often unwittingly downloaded by users as the result of installing a new program or utility. According to figures from IDC, the cost of dealing with the problem will rise by 2,400% over the next four years. Spyware can track keystrokes, change settings and scan hard drives for personal and corporate data, potentially stealing or even altering them. It causes PCs to slow down or crash and is the root of huge numbers of support. Dell reported recently that spyware accounted for around 15% of their PC support calls and estimated that up to 90% of US PCs were infected by some degree of spyware. “IT managers must learn about the threat of spyware to corporate data and provision budget and training accordingly to deal with it during 2005,” says Nigel Hawthorn, UK marketing director for Blue Coat, a leading provider of proxy appliances. “The consequences for businesses and their staff of not dealing with the threat will be catastrophic – a loss in productivity, compromising of sensitive corporate data and an increase in spam adverts from third parties that are targeting them,” he adds. Hawthorn also warned that IT managers should be careful about what kind of anti-spyware technology they opted for. “Some software claims to deal with spyware but often only have a list of known spyware websites and sometimes only look at the problem after infection, when it is already inside the corporate network,” he warns. “The threat, both from known and unknown spyware must be dealt with at the gateway of company networks,” he adds.

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