Corporate Losses From Internet-Based Attacks Average $2M

A survey of 162 companies also found that organizations on average suffered one disruptive incident a year from worms, viruses, spyware or other security-related causes, the Aberdeen Group said. Corporate systems were down an average of 22 hours in each attack.

The battle against malicious code has intensified as companies increase their use of the Internet to generate revenue.

According to the survey, 75 percent of firms are ratcheting up their web-based customer sales and services operations, and 55 percent are increasing their use of the Internet for negotiating and buying goods from suppliers. In addition, 48 percent of the respondents are using the Internet more for distributing products and for filling orders.

"Those operations really cover the waterfront," Aberdeen analyst James Hurley said. "Those are most of the core business functions from supply to customer orders.

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"[As a result] the business imperative to keep these systems operating is on a collision course with not being able to service customers and sales following an attack," he said.

To combat malware, 82 percent of the companies surveyed had strategies focusing on strengthening their defenses. The remaining companies were split, with half saying their primary strategy was to clean up the mess following an attack, or to contain damage once it has occurred.

"What that says quite clearly is that organizations have made up their minds on what to do going forward," Hurley said.

About three out of five companies said they needed to add security technology, but didn't know which products they needed. "There's a lot of confusion in the market as to what technology to select," Hurley said.

Beyond technology, companies focused on prevention said they needed more staff with strong security backgrounds, the study found.

Among Aberdeen's recommendations to fend off attacks is for companies to build a profile on the customers and partners using Internet-based systems. Companies, for example, conducting a lot of business with consumers should be prepared to deal with a significant portion of computers infected with viruses, spyware or other dangerous code.

Companies engaged in business-to-business transactions should know their partners' and customers' security policies and technology.

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