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Thursday, 11 April, 2002, 08:10 GMT 09:10 UK
Next computer bug could hit UK hard
Combination lock on briefcase, Eyewire
Companies not doing enough to lock out viruses
The next big computer virus outbreak could wreak havoc among British businesses.

A survey by security company McAfee has found that many companies are not doing enough to protect themselves against a computer virus as virulent as Code Red or Nimda.

The research revealed that many companies are risking infection because they do not update their anti-virus software frequently enough.

It also found that some companies only bother to get the latest protection against computer viruses when there is a big outbreak.

Damage done

Although computer viruses are circulating on the net in large numbers, 2002 has yet to see mass infections on the scale of 2001 when the Code Red and Nimda viruses struck.

Research by anti-virus company McAfee has found that this period of calm has made technology managers at many companies complacent about the threat that viruses pose.

Although 92% of those questioned said they had the staff, cash and computers to cope with computer viruses, 35% of companies had suffered serious disruption to their business as they cleaned up after an infection.


There will come a day when these people cannot keep on top of all the viruses

Sal Viveros, McAfee
Sal Viveros, a spokesman for McAfee, said the contradiction between claims of preparedness and damage done showed that many companies only worried about the malicious programs when they had to.

Mr Viveros said that the research revealed that few small companies employed someone full-time to protect their network.

Instead, he said, the security job fell to those that oversaw the running of the whole computer network.

These people were usually so overworked that they only worried about security when something went wrong or a virus struck, he said.

Getting harder

The research revealed that only a third of businesses updated their anti-virus software daily. Others do it weekly (30%), monthly (10%) or only when there is a big outbreak (5%).

"Many are coping with the fire now," said Mr Viveros. "They are not being very proactive about security."

The Love Bug, AP
Big virus outbreaks force people to tighten security
Unfortunately the job of protecting a network was only going to get harder, he said. Figures collected by ICSA Labs show that the number of viruses in circulation and the number of machines being infected is constantly climbing.

"There will come a day when these people cannot keep on top of all the viruses," said Mr Viveros.

As viruses got smarter they became harder to protect against and more of a headache for anyone charged with securing a computer network, said Mr Viveros.

"It does not take someone to respond to an e-mail anymore," he said. "These things look for vulnerabilities all by themselves."

See also:

02 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
Code Red infections spread
02 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
Code Red 'was never a threat'
20 Dec 01 | Sci/Tech
Festive e-greeting hides virus
13 Mar 02 | Sci/Tech
Locking out the hackers
01 Aug 01 | Business
Code Red cost tops $1.2bn
08 Apr 02 | Sci/Tech
Computer crime 'soaring'
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