Viruses still the biggest IT fear for U.K. firms

The vast majority of U.K.-based small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) believe that viruses are the biggest security threat to their IT systems, according to new research.

According to a poll by IT reseller WStore, 84 percent of small firms rate viruses as their biggest security headache. The study also said viruses are feared by larger enterprises to almost the same extent, with over 70 percent citing them as "a major concern."

One significant difference between the corporate and SME respondents was the perception of the threat posed by their own staff. Only a quarter of SMEs considered employees to be a potential security risk, compared with almost 60 percent of the corporate customers who cited them as a concern.

The relatively new threat posed by spyware was deem "a big cause of concern" to over three quarters of respondents, with phishing and spoofing taking the third most feared spot (by almost 40 percent of the survey base).

Over a third of respondents are still concerned about direct hacking, particularly from the growing danger coming from organized criminals mostly working out of the Middle East and China. According to the Korean Information Security Agency, 10,628 cases of hacking attempts from China were reported in the first half of the year, a 30-fold increase since 2004. IBM, in its annual Global Business Security Index report, said that attacks launched by criminal hacking groups were getting much more finely targeted.

Sal Viveros, security specialist at McAfee, commented on the report's findings: "The findings in the WStore survey perfectly illustrate the sheer scale and variety of the attacks facing all sizes of company in the U.K. It is easy to hear the latest buzzwords like phishing, pharming, spam and spyware and assume they are the pre-eminent problem in IT security. The reality is each new type of attack, rather than replacing an older threat, only adds to the problems for network administrators."

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