Spyware Skyrockets on Greynet Fuel

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Employees are downloading ''Greynet'' applications at an escalating clip, and unleashing more spyware and adware in the process. The extra mess is costing enterprises on average over $130,000 a month to clean it up.

Those are just a few of the conclusions of a just-released survey from FaceTime Communications, which also sells software security for enterprise IM networks. The survey, conducted by market research firm NewDiligence, said enterprises now spend over $130,000 per month in IT time fighting spyware-related issues.

What's helping fuel the skyrocketing spyware stats? Consider some of the responses from end users. With anonymity guaranteed in the responses, a majority of the end users in the survey said they believe they have the right to install Greynet applications at the workplace.

''They also believe IT has any security issues associated with Greynets under control,'' the survey added. ''Yet, out of the group that thinks IT can fix any mess they unleash on the enterprise by sneaking in a download, some 87 percent of the same end users reported a spyware or virus problem resulting in slow Internet response times, pop-up ads and corrupted files.''

To their credit, they understood the risks of downloading an unsanctioned application, said Frank Cabri, vice president of marketing at FaceTime Communications.

''But the majority also felt that the IT organization had the problem handled so they can use the tools they feel they need for the job, despite the fact they admitted to spyware problems in the last six months,'' he told internetnews.com. ''So their confidence may be misplaced.''

The survey was conducted over the past three months, and consisted of 622 IT managers and 564 end users across small, medium and large businesses. ''We did the survey to understand what the IT concerns are, and the consequences of using these applications,'' he added.

The Greynet applications are those not officially sanctioned or supported by the enterprise or IT staff. The categories include instant messaging, Web browsing/surfing software (including streaming media and RSS), peer-to-peer file sharing (e.g. BitTorrent, Kazaa), peer-to-peer collaboration (e.g. WebEx, PlaceWare, anonymizers) and proxies (e.g. Tor, Ghostsurf).

Although some applications may be benign, and some applications may be considered critical to day-to-day job functions, such as IM. But the survey found that unsanctioned applications were helping to unleash an increase in spyware-related incidents, since spyware incidents now happen twice as many times as virus infections. In addition, the survey also gauged how fast high-end users are adopting unsanctioned network applications on businesses' PCs.

This article was first published on internetnews.com. To read the full article, click here.