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Greynets, Spyware Still On the Rise

FaceTime Communications and market researcher NewDiligence have released a study showing that enterprises spend an average of $130,000 per month in IT time fighting spyware-related issues.

FaceTime Communications and market researcher NewDiligence have released a study showing that enterprises spend an average of $130,000 per month in IT time fighting spyware-related issues.

The joint study, which was based on a survey of more than 1,000 end users and IT managers, found that reports of spyware are now occurring at twice the rate of virus infections. That is costing companies money both in terms of IT costs associated with remedying infected machines and in productivity losses. In addition, the problem is compounded by the growing number of end users who download unauthorized network applications onto their machines, often unwittingly.

Those unsanctioned applications, called "greynets," are downloaded to systems without permission from the IT department. These applications can be sent via instant messaging, P2P file sharing, Web conferencing, Skype, Web mail and adware/spyware. Once downloaded, they use evasive techniques to transverse the network.

The study also found that users, by and large, assume they have the right to install greynet applications at work, and that their IT departments have security issues associated with greynets under control. But 87 percent of the same respondents also have reported spyware or virus problems, resulting in slow Internet response times, pop-up ads and corrupted files.

Spyware is particularly insidious. According to the survey, of the IT managers who claim to have rolled out perimeter-security solutions, 77 percent of them have had a spyware incident in the past six months, and three-quarters of them say spyware incidents are as bad or worse than they were six months ago.

The study suggests that more than 90 percent of end users will download some kind of greynet application in the next six months, and that 91 percent of IT managers are not confident in their antispyware product's ability to stop the problem.

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