You’ve Got Spyware; And Lots of It

Spyware’s scope now includes greynets, according to a report from FaceTime Commuinications.

Greynets are defined as applications that are downloaded and installed on end-user systems without express permission or awareness from IT departments, and often without user knowledge. These programs then use evasive techniques to traverse the network. FaceTime includes IM (define), P2P (define) file sharing, RSS and even Skype among those application it defines as greynet. Though both RSS and Skype can be useful in an organization, they can also be a potential business risk, as Frank Cabri, VP of marketing for FaceTime Communications, explained to ClickZ Stats. Cabri admits, however, the report doesn’t specify the perceived risks for these technologies.

All told, FaceTime’s study found companies with over 1,000 employees report 277 spyware and adware attempts or installations per month. Each security incident takes an average eight hours for IT to resolve, which amounts to a monthly cost of $132,960. Organizations greater than 100 employees report an average of 193 spyware and adware attempts or installations per month.

The reported impact of the greynets on end users’ computers include slowdowns in network response times (71 percent); uncontrollable pop-up ad windows (49 percent); corrupted files (38 percent); homepage reset (37 percent); unintended toolbar additions (37 percent); and corrupted applications (26 percent).

Effects of Greynet Delivered Viruses and Spyware on End User Computers
Click on graphic to view chart

So-called greynets are currently employed by 78 percent of end-user respondents, a number expected to rise to 93 percent over the next six months. On average, IT managers reported nearly six unique greynet applications in use on their network at the time of the survey. Twenty-six percent of respondent indicated they had six or seven greynet applications; eight percent reported 10 or more greynet programs running on their networks.

Greynet Applications in Use at Work Locations August 2005
Click on graphic to view chart

Surprisingly, 77 percent of IT managers that currently have some form of perimeter security including intrusion detection and prevention, URL filtering, and a gateway anti-virus product, report they’ve had either a spyware or virus incident within the past six months.

The FaceTime study results were derived from a pair of surveys conducted between June and August, 2005 involving 622 IT managers and 564 end-users.

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