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Execs Watching Porn a Leading Cause of Malware Problems

Legitimate-looking notifications hide malware
. / Credit: Malware image via Shutterstock

While employees may get the brunt of the blame for security breaches, company leaders are doing their fair share of damage as well, a new study finds.

Research from ThreatTrack Security revealed that 40 percent of security professionals found that a device used by a member of their company's senior leadership team had been infected by malware because of a visit to a pornographic website, and nearly 60 percent of the security professionals surveyed have cleaned malware from a device after an executive clicked on a malicious link or was duped by a phishing email.

In addition, 45 percent of respondents said they have found malware on a senior leader's device because the executive allowed a family member to use it, with one-third of security professionals discovering it on an executive's mobile devices because they installed a malicious app.

Despite numerous reports of high-profile security breaches, the majority of businesses aren't disclosing when one occurs. The study shows that nearly six in 10 malware analysts reported they have investigated or addressed a data breach that was never revealed by their company.

ThreatTrack CEO Julian Waits Sr. said that while it is discouraging that so many malware analysts are aware of data breaches that enterprises have not disclosed, it is no surprise that the breaches are occurring.

"Every day, malware becomes more sophisticated, and U.S. enterprises are constantly targeted for cyberespionage campaigns from overseas competitors and foreign governments," Waits said. "This study reveals that malware analysts are acutely aware of the threats they face, and while many of them report progress in their ability to combat cyberattacks, they also point out deficiencies in resources and tools."

The research shows that most security professionals don't believe they have enough help dealing with the problems they face. Forty percent of those surveyed said one of the most difficult aspects of defending their organization's network was a dearth of highly skilled security personnel on staff. The complexity of malware, the volume of malware and the ineffectiveness of anti-malware solutions are other top problems these professionals have in protecting their organization from security breaches.

Cleaning up malware from a company device or network is no small task. The research found that more than half of all malware analysts said it typically takes them more than 2 hours to analyze a new malware sample, with only 4 percent saying they are capable of doing it in less than an hour.

The study was based on surveys of 200 security professionals at large U.S. businesses.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.