Spyware Infiltrates the Enterprise Sector

Spyware and adware have made inroads into the enterprise. The infection rate of malicious spyware at companies is approximately seven percent, and adware appears on 52 percent of machines, according to anti-spyware software developer Webroot.

The report, “The State of Spyware,” intends to act as a baseline on spyware information, with quarterly updates planned. Webroot breaks out four kinds of “spyware”: adware, cookies, system monitors and Trojans. The study does not attempt to differentiate between the degrees of benefit or harm associated with each category.

Results come from self-selected clients of Webroot’s Corporate SpyAudit software. Scans from over 35,300 systems, representing over 18,000 companies, showed the installation rate of all these program and file types is 87 percent.


Corporate Computers With Instances of Spyware Q42004 and Q12005
Click to view full-size chart

“We have spent five quarters collecting data,” said Richard Steinnon, VP of threat research at Webroot.


Spyware Found on Corporate Computers by All Categories Q42004 and Q12005
Click to view full-size chart

“Of the four major categories the company terms “spyware”: adware, cookies, system monitors and Trojans, cookies top the list — not surprisingly — appearing on 70 percent of systems scanned.

Second in the findings is adware, at 52 percent, down from 70 percent at the end of last year. Each computer containing adware has an average 3.6 instances running. The most troublesome forms of spyware, system monitors and Trojans, were present at the enterprise level but only found on seven percent of computers. Malicious forms of spyware are less common on enterprise than on consumer machines due to firewalls and company initiatives.

“Three to five percent of enterprise machines have keystroke loggers present,” said Steinnon.

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