Spyware: this year’s hottest fashion

Spyware: this year’s hottest fashion

2003 was the year of the worm, last year spam was the number one bugbear in internet security and this year spyware is catching the headlines.

As concerns over this internet threat continue to rise, antivirus heavyweights Symantec and Trend Micro have both been drawing attention to the spyware-busting capabilities in their corporate offerings.

Trend Micro is adding or enhancing the antispyware tools in the latest versions of its commercial products this month and outlined its strategy at a partner roadshow in Auckland in May.

Symantec also hosted seminars last month to remind the market of the spyware-fighting capabilities of its Client Security 3.0 and AntiVirus Corporate Edition 10.0 suites, released in March.

“Spyware is the spam of 2005,” says Robert Pregnall, Symantec’s Sydney-based regional product marketing manager.

Adware- and spyware-related security risks now comprise nearly 20% of submissions made to Symantec Security Response research labs, says Pregnall.

A study conducted by Symantec earlier this year highlighted the prevalence of the problem.

An unprotected PC was used to browse popular websites for one hour at a time. It picked up 359 pieces of adware from popular child-focused websites, 17 adware and two spyware risks from six sports sites, 23 adware and four spyware risks from six gaming sites and 64 adware and two spyware risks from five travel sites.

For Symantec the issue is best addressed through an integrated approach, which is why it has added spyware detection and removal tools to its antivirus offerings, Pregnall says.

“Customers expect their antivirus vendor to deliver enterprise-level protection against spyware and adware,” he says, quoting a study of internet users in Australia and New Zealand conducted by Sydney-based Bread and Butter Research.

Pregnall says with Symantec, users can manage their spyware problem centrally and on individual clients from the same console as their antivirus software.

He says Symantec provides real-time detection and prevention against spyware, a very high detection rate and thorough removal capabilities.

Trend Micro also identifies spyware as one of the most prevalent problems in security this year.

Sydney-based product marketing mana-ger Ben Guthie quotes an IDC study that found spyware is the fourth greatest threat to network security, with 67% of all compu-ters infected.

With spyware, criminals can compromise corporate security, putting organisations at risk of losing their intellectual property or other information assets, he says.

Spyware also causes a reduction of network performance and has a direct impact on up to half of application failures.

Trend Micro sees a multilayered approach as the best way to tackle spyware.

Guthie says it is the only vendor that blocks spyware at the gateway, client and server levels.

The company’s InterScan Web Security 2.5 suite, due out this month, will block spyware at the gateway before it enters the network and will bar it from accessing the internet to “phone home”.

OfficeScan then blocks spyware on servers, desktops and remote laptops.

These can be cleaned of spyware by Damage Cleanup Services 3.0, which will be released this month.

Trend Micro Control Manager provides centralised reporting and management across the enterprise, says Guthie.

Meanwhile, the company plans to release a small business antispyware product later this year, based on the CWShredder range it acquired last month from Massachutsetts-based Intermute.

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