Most companies greatly underestimate the number of malicious programs appearing daily, a global survey of more than 2,000 IT professionals has revealed.
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.