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Wednesday, 22 November, 2000, 20:44 GMT
UK e-commerce 'ailing'
thermometer
Business health check reveals some worrying symptoms
By BBC News Online internet reporter
Mark Ward

Electronic business in Britain is ailing, according to research into the habits of top companies.

Many of those questioned in the research, by Network Associates, revealed that they were neglecting basic security procedures and doing little to protect themselves.

The result is that many companies are leaving themselves open to infection from viruses, attack by malicious hackers and are endangering progress towards an increasingly electronic economy.

But the report says the key to improving the health of Britain's fledgling e-businesses is better trained people, not more technology.

Network news

Research into how Britain's biggest companies are coping with the move to more networked ways of working has found that many are being caught out by the relentless pace of technology.

Over 70% of the 120 companies questioned said their internal networks were not fast enough or secure enough to cope with the move to a more net-based way of working.

The survey found that 30% of those questioned experience a complete network crash at least once every 12 weeks and 23% have had essential business data corrupted by virus attacks.

Barely a third of those surveyed were happy that their network was adequately protected against viruses and the attentions of malicious hackers.

More than 70% believed that, despite businesses being hit by the Melissa and Love Bug viruses in the past year, most employees still did not do enough to avoid infection.

Every business questioned is making more use of networks to let employees swap key data, give workers on the road access to up-to-date information, tie suppliers and partners into closer trading networks or to sell to customers via a website.

Working worries

But Philip Harragan, European managing director of Network Associates which commissioned the research, said the move to a more interconnected world was catching many companies napping.

He added that technology alone would not solve the problem for companies - rather it was their employees that held the key to a business protecting itself.

"The staff in any organisation are the biggest threat to security because they do not understand what is good and bad practice," said Mr Harragan.

He urged firms to train staff in the dangers that poor practices posed.

"We do not want to scare people," he said.

"We want to make them aware and do something and not just sit there. It is understanding that fixes the problem not the technology."

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See also:

19 Oct 00 | Sci/Tech
Cybercrime threat 'real and growing'
27 Oct 00 | Sci/Tech
Hacking: A history
05 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Plea to revive Love Bug charges
25 Aug 00 | Sci/Tech
Pokemon virus contained
10 Oct 00 | Africa
Malawi's e-commerce revolution
02 Aug 00 | Business
Net leaves the law behind
24 Mar 00 | Business
Outdoing the hackers
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