During 2007, spyware has been IT professionals' biggest security concern.
The Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) surveyed 1,070 businesses earlier this year. Some 55 percent of those polled reported spyware as their top concern; in particular, respondents said the volume of spyware they have to combat had increased in the previous 12 months.
"Spyware was rarely mentioned as a concern just a few years ago," said John Venator, president and CEO at CompTIA, in a statement. CompTIA commissioned the survey, which was conducted by TNS, a marketing research group.
A close second to spyware was a lack of user awareness, which worried 54 percent of survey respondents. Close to 50 percent cited viruses and worms as their biggest concern, and about 45 percent said authorised-user abuse represents a security issue.
Rounding out the top five concerns cited in the 2007 survey was browser-based attacks, with more than 41 percent citing that as a cause for worry.
Looking ahead, 20 percent of survey respondents said they see viruses and worms as threats in 2010, while 14 percent said they think spyware will continue to be a concern.
Nine percent cited wireless access as a potential security issue in 2010, and 9 percent said the same about email and email attachments.
Organisations are less concerned about phishing and social-engineering attacks: Just 5 percent said they were a cause for concern. Another 5 percent mentioned remote access as a potential security problem in 2010.
CompTIA says organisations are increasing their IT spending on security technology and training.
"Nearly one-half indicate they intend to increase spending on security-related technologies, and another one-third expects to increase spending on security training," Venator said.