Survey: 92 percent of organizations hit by spyware

San Diego (CA) - Websense reports that 92 percent of IT managers believe their organizations have been infected with spyware, a rogue technology that can secretly collect Web surfing patterns, keystrokes and password information to send back to a host Web site, with or without the user’s knowledge.

According to a survey sponsored by Websense and conducted by Harris Interactive, corporations will not only have to battle malicious code and spam, but also a rapidly increasing problem of spyware.

While IT managers believe that 29 percent of their corporate PCs have been infected with spyware, only six percent of employees said they have ever visited any Web sites at work that contain spyware. One-third of employees surveyed either do not believe, or are unsure, that their computers could be infected with spyware.

IT management however reported that spyware was on the rise - of those that acknowledged they had a spyware infection, forty percent believe that the number of spyware-infected workstations at their organization has increased. According to the findings, in fact 92 percent of organizations with more than 100 employees have been hit by spyware already.

One of the most common ways for an employee to download spyware is by using a peer-to-peer file sharing application such as Kazaa or Morpheus, Websense said. "Employees are typically exposed to spyware as a parasitic program that is attached to something useful they’ve intentionally downloaded from the Internet, or been tricked into downloading, or it is surreptitiously loaded by a malicious hacker," said Peter Firstbrook, program manager at Meta Group.

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