Survey Finds Corporate PCs Riddled With Malware

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Another day, another survey that's not surprising at all to anyone in the technology field. Try as they may, most administrators and IT workers can't go 24 hours without being hit with at least one complaint that isn't link to malware, or other software that should not have been on a worker's machine to begin with. And now, there's some actual data to back that up.

Bit9 has published results from a recent study they did on this very topic, with the title being "2010: What's Running On Your Users' Desktops?" They surveyed over 1200 IT professionals, and 68% of them said that "they have software restrictions in place, but 45% said they still found unauthorized software on more than half of their client PCs." A total of 46% admitted that "spyware, malware, and unlicensed software continue to pose a problem by getting past traditional security methods," while 25% of user downtime could be attributed to these snafus. Just under 40% confessed that they didn't have a software usage policy that "specifically prohibits employees from downloading their own software," but from our experience, having those creates lots of tension and animosity within the office. After all, who can live without Firefox?

Because of this, just 32% of the professionals who responded felt "confident their businesses would be safe from damage caused by unauthorized or malicious software this year," and while Bit9 obviously has motives for investigating this stuff (they sell whitelisting security products to help counter these issues), we do not doubt the results at all. From our own time in the office, we know just how bad malware problems can be, particularly on PCs of employees who find themselves with too much free time or not enough computer knowledge.

So, the lesson in all of this? Staff up your IT department, because regardless of safeguards, you'll be running into these problems sooner or later.
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While I am not really surprised those numbers are ridiculously high. I have not had a computer virus in years. It's all about your online habits and it is shocking how little people manage to get that.

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acarzt replied on Fri, May 28 2010 1:52 PM

That's mostly true bob... but sometimes even trusted sites get infected and you catch a virus from them.

So no matter how safe you think you are... there is always that chance. The only way to truly be protected from virus' 100% is to not be connected to the internet at all lol

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If there is one thing I've noticed, it that computer's are basically useless without the internet. But I can believe those numbers, corporate computer's aren't very well maintained, I bet it's because the company doesn't want to spend a lot of money trying to globally clean the network. That stuff is expensive. There is this one computer store that I know that charges $200 just for virus removal from ONE computer.

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AKwyn replied on Fri, May 28 2010 8:48 PM

The corporations should really learn to update their computers with more secure software/browsers more regularly. This is mostly the problem with corporations, they just love to save money so they force the workers to use whatever software they have, and not upgrade to the new verson for fear of incompatibility/waste of money.


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3vi1 replied on Fri, May 28 2010 11:17 PM

>> Just under 40% confessed that they didn't have a software usage policy that "specifically prohibits employees from downloading their own software,"

WTH? If the samples included corporations of any significant size, these guys should all be replaced.

At my company, we lock down our PCs so that the users have no rights to install *anything*. How often, in a business environment do you need to bring in a new app?: Not as much as you would think. Everything should be packaged for easy deployment to new or replacement employees and have license counts stored in your vault (if applicable).

It may seem a bit heavy handed, but it's allowed us to standardize the software that's used, so that we don't have 15 packages that do the same thing - causing confusion as users move throughout the company. And best of all, I don't think I've heard of a virus in our environment in over 10+ years (and this is on WinXP desktops!).

When you store your data on the server, and lock down the desktop, the help desk should not have to troubleshoot any issue for more than 10-15 minutes, and they don'tt have to waste any time before clicking a button to re-image the PC (the PC/user will re-receive all of their software due to group membership) in the event of catastrophic problems.

If you're not used to this now, get ready for it. We'll have blade-servers giving on-the fly created virtualized desktops to most users on thin clients before you know it. The pendulum continues to swing both ways and the mainframe has a new name.

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rapid1 replied on Sat, May 29 2010 12:56 AM

That is inexorably true 3vi1! I found this crazy. For a common work desktop a dual core thin client can handle everything, and in most cases should. This is especially true if you have a decent cat5/6 or fiber network.

Your whole comment here is right top to bottom. I really think a lot of this is crazy, but also realize we may be technically advanced compared to say 10 years ago. I will also say we are at best on the cusp of the middle of where it will go in the next 20 years, if not in 10 at best technically speaking. I know it's a whole different topic, but it is relative as well.

Whoever is administering these networks is not doing a very good job in the least. Well at least from the way I look at it, and the way you point out!

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realneil replied on Sat, May 29 2010 2:49 PM

Company PC's should be restricted from any software installations at all times. If you need a program for your job, then the company's IT department should buy it, install it, and support it too. Any company that doesn't follow these rules shouldn't whine to the IT guys when things go wrong at work with the computer systems. The company I worked for had a policy of immediate firing without recourse anybody caught installing any software onto a company computer.

People joked around about it until the IT dept fired a division director for doing it. Then it was a serious matter.

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rapid1 replied on Sun, May 30 2010 12:57 AM

Rofl I actually got canned once for something like that. I did not install any software, but was hitting some kind of nefarious site's (No not porn well not directly). My friend Steven's GF (Jessica) at the time (mid 20's) was causing him to be suspicious behavior wise. Well I sent her a keylogger from an anon address. I got some weird returns and since I was on the web doing support all day in my down time I did a little investigating. Two weeks later I was pretty much canned, and I new it was for that. Turns out her behavior was far past nefarious lol, she was doing a lil private business of her own (I will just say it did not involve any cam's). Well unless they were requested!

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In any proper IT environment, regular user's cannot install anything. It is true for where I work too...i'm currently in IT (just a regular technician). It pains me when we set up "Stand alone" computer that are completely off the network and regular user's have the computer for basically their own "work" use. Well after only about 2 weeks of use (even with an antivirus), somehow these people who think they "know a lot about computers" come back to us to get the damn computer completely rebuilt due to multiple virus infections. These people even have the gall to say "I didn't do anything to it!", right...

Truth is, when I slave the hard drive onto an off the network computer to work on it, 99% of the time it was because the idiot was surfing porno sites.

Also...another thing about working in IT, people *** and moan and complain about us all the time, saying we are so slow to do everything. Well-well-well, one time they complained, so a person "who knows a lot about computers" was helping his co-worker, and neither worked in IT, to fix a computer. Apparently the computer crashed and the worker required all the documents on there, so his co-worker (the so called computer wizard) booted up the computer and proceeded to start the system recovery.!!!

Needless to say, the laptop the person originally had, he had lost all of his documents. I laughed in his face the day I saw that. Ever since then - they all go to us now, as we safely grab any required documents :)

Anytime anybody says they are "good with computers", I really don't trust them at all around any of mine ;)

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