The majority of organisations within the UK have been the victim of a malware attack according to a recent survey by anti-spyware developer, Webroot Software in co-operation with market research solutions provider, GMI.

Well over half (59%) of the 600 UK respondents surveyed by Webroot reported that they had suffered an adware attack, 52% were victims of a Trojan horse attack and 55%, a ‘phishing’ or email attack.

The figures make the UK the highest spyware infected nation in the European Union (EU) said David Moll, Webroot chief executive. “Many organisations don’t seem to realise the impact of spyware attacks. What was once a minor inconvenience has developed into something that already has a major impact on a company’s bottom line, not only through simply increasing system downtime and support requests but also in the worst case through the theft of sensitive intellectual property,” he said.

Increased helpdesk time to repair spyware damage was the highest ranking enterprise complaint, with 45% of organisations saying it had effected their organisation in this way. Reduced employee productivity (32%) and disrupted business activities (31%) were also high-ranking complaints. More worryingly though, 11% of companies felt spyware had caused them to lose sales.

The research also found 72% of companies surveyed had some form of desktop anti-spyware installed. But relying on this as a sole means of prevention can often invite more problems, said Daniel Mothersdale, Webroot’s marketing director: “Although software is a major tool in preventing an organisation from being infected with spyware, education is also a key element of forming a strong defence. Many of the problems you encounter with spyware can be traced back to poor Internet surfing practices. Educating staff around safe browsing practices is much more cost effective than the amount of time help desks currently spend fixing spyware related complaints.”