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Thursday, 27 December, 2001, 09:02 GMT
Security by remote control
Viruses are getting smarter and more prevalent
Broadband net users in the UK who are worried that their PCs could be subverted by malicious hackers can now let anti-virus companies keep an eye on their machines for them.

Security company McAfee has launched a subscription service that uses the web to protect a PC against viruses and attacks by computer vandals.

For a monthly fee, subscribers get anti-virus software and a firewall designed to keep personal information on a PC secure.

Research commissioned by McAfee has revealed that many net users are not doing enough to protect themselves against the most common types of attacks.

Hack attacks

Atri Chatterjee, a spokesman for McAfee, said although a lot of people used stand-alone anti-virus programs many forgot to update them regularly, leaving them vulnerable to viruses that exploited recently found loopholes.

Three out of four people are surfing naked and are open to all kinds of hacking attempts

Atri Chatterjee, McAfee
Even those who used a personal firewall to protect themselves and their computer from unwelcome intruders could be caught out by the sheer number of security vulnerabilities and patch programs that were reported every week, he said.

A study by anti-virus company MessageLabs found that the number of viruses circulating on the net has leapt in the last year.

In 2000, MessageLabs was stopping a virus every 700 e-mails. Now, the figure is one virus in every 370 messages.

Research has found that those who use broadband net connections are at real risk of attack from malicious hackers and computer vandals.

Because broadband connections are "always on", attackers typically have more time to find and try to penetrate computers linked to the net in this way.

Computers online via a broadband link have proved very popular with vandals who use them as proxies to carry out "denial of service attacks" in which a target machine is bombarded with bogus data packets.

Remote control

For 17.95 a year, McAfee will take on the burden of updating anti-virus software for customers to ensure that they stay protected against viruses.

For an extra 20.95 per annum, subscribers get a firewall managed remotely by McAfee that keeps out those that want to harvest personal information from a computer or recruit that machine for a future attack.

Both programs are updated, managed and monitored via the web by McAfee.

"Three out of four people are surfing naked and are open to all kinds of hacking attempts," said Mr Chatterjee.

The McAfee security subscription service has been running in the US since April 1999 and now has more than 1.2 million customers.

The service is available now in the UK and Germany and will be rolled out to 12 more countries in 2002.

See also:

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Hackers make house calls
06 Mar 01 | Business
'Naked wife' virus strikes computers
19 Dec 01 | Sci/Tech
Microsoft closes browser holes
18 Dec 01 | Business
UK broadband 'to triple in 2002'
31 Jul 01 | Sci/Tech
Hackers to the honey
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