Anti-spyware software failing

Desktop anti-spyware software isn’t doing the job, IT professionals have concluded.

According to an international survey by proxy appliance company Blue Coat Systems Inc., 72 per cent said desktop anti-spyware programs were ineffective in protecting their networks. Blue Coat surveyed 339 IT staff who used programs from Computer Associates International Inc. (PestPatrol), Kaspersky Lab, Lavasoft (Ad-Aware), McAfee Inc., Microsoft Corp., Spybot, Symantec Corp. or Webroot Software Inc.

Eighty-four per cent of respondents, from large, medium-sized and small organizations, reported their spyware problems were the same as or worse than three months ago, Blue Coat said.

Techworld found this conflicted with findings for home broadband users in the U.S. In their case, the National Cyber Security Alliance, an industry body, saw a reduction in infection from 91 per cent in February 2004 to 80 per cent in October.

Steve Mullaney, vice-president of marketing for Calif.-based Blue Coat, said: “While desktop software is the only answer for consumers, enterprises are likely to see their costs spiral unless they implement a ‘defence-in-depth’ strategy that includes a gateway anti-spyware solution.”

Paul Wood, chief information analyst at e-mail security company Message Labs Ltd., said that because spyware was a grey area — encompassing legitimate employer control programs and approved data harvesting as well as Trojan-type material and other malware — it needed expert management.

“It’s not like buying a washing machine or fridge-freezer, it’s something you have to manage and look after.” Blue Coat’s approach is to provide dedicated appliances on the edge of the company network to filter traffic. Message Labs offers an outsourced managed service.

Wood said IT managers had enough on their plates dealing with frequent Windows security upgrades to thousands of computers, for example, without having to be experts on the latest criminal IT threat from any