Track down that spyware

Research just published by Peapod, the data security specialist, claims to show that, of the 73 per cent of organisations that suffered a spyware invasion last year, 19 per cent were unable to identify the source.

According to Peapod, this raises the question of how organisations can thoroughly protect their networks, when they clearly haven't identified all areas of risk.

In addition, researchers found that, of the 57 per cent of organisations that have banned Instant Messaging in the workplace, almost 70 per cent use methods to enforce the ban that are obsolete , easy to circumvent or ignore.

The survey of 203 UK organisations from a broad range of industries found that, despite the fact that spyware entering the network through IM channels is on the rise, many organisations place themselves at risk by not recognising that IM networks and aggregators are designed to evade security controls such as blocking ports.

Most survey respondents said that they adopt port blocking techniques to control IM, but this method is in direct conflict with how such applications work, since many IM applications are port evasive, often even tunnelling through http to find an alternative route if the default one is blocked.

Chris Durnan, Peapod's MD, said that the research found that technology is not the only answer to the problem of security.

"In the case of Instant Messaging this is a particularly relevant point. IM is a communications tool with some pretty emphatic benefits for those who use it correctly, but carries a nasty sting for anyone careless or ignorant," he said.

The survey results are interesting as they prove something I've thought for some time, namely that security is not purely technology, but more a state of mind...