Seventeen percent of organisations have had employees launch a hacking tool or a keylogger within their network this year, according to a new survey from web security firm Websense, a worrying rise of 12% on last year's figures.

Keyloggers are among the most dangerous types of spyware. It is software that is unwittingly loaded to a computer and then records keystrokes and screen shots. These can be replayed later to reconstruct a user session. Keyloggers are used by hackers to steal passwords and confidential information, which can then be used to provide full access to corporate systems and files.

Researchers from Harris Interactive interviewed 351 IT decision-makers in the US who work for organisations with at least 100 employees, as well as 500 employees.

The survey also found that the threat of bots is rising. A bot (short for robot) is software that can be unknowingly installed on an end-user’s PC that communicates with a command and control centre. The command and control centre has unauthorised control of many bot-infested PCs from a single point – making a bot network, and can be used for launching distributed Denial of Service attacks, acting as a spam proxy, and hosting malicious content and phishing exploits.

Only 34% of IT decision-makers said they are very or extremely confident that they can prevent bots from infecting employees’ PCs when not connected to the corporate network. Nineteen percent of IT decision-makers indicated that they have had employees’ work-owned computers or laptops infected with a bot.