Most companies greatly underestimate the number of malicious programs appearing daily, a global survey of more than 2,000 IT professionals has revealed.
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Nearly 200,000 new malware samples appear around the world each day, according to security firm Kaspersky Lab, which commissioned the survey.
Asked to estimate this figure, 90% of respondents named a lower figure; 4% guessed too high and only 6% per cent gave an accurate estimate.
Most guessed the figure was between 100 and 1,000.
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The highest levels of malware awareness were found among IT professionals in the Middle East, where 24% gave accurate estimates, according to the 2013 Global Corporate IT Security Risks survey.
At 4%, the lowest levels of malware knowledge were found in Russia.
In other regions, including North and South America, Western Europe and Asia-Pacific, the percentage of companies with accurate estimates ranged from 5% to 7%, the survey by B2B International found.
The survey also showed that an average 66% of companies had experienced at least one attack involving malware in the previous 12 months.
The companies most frequently targeted in those attacks were located in South America (72%), Russia (71%), North America (70%), Asia-Pacific (68%) and Western Europe (63%).
The most frequently targeted regions correspond with those that demonstrated relatively low levels of education about the number of new malware threats.
The research report notes that a company’s ability to accurately assess daily malware volumes is not necessarily an indicator of preparedness to counter cyber-attacks.
However, it is reasonable to suggest that better informed organisations are more capable of assessing risk and making the most suitable choices when it comes to protecting IT infrastructure, the report said.