Australian Businesses hit by computer viruses up 75pct : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Businesses hit by computer viruses up 75pct

Source: AAP | Published: Thursday June 8, 6:50 PM

The number of computer viruses infecting Australian businesses has risen by 75 per cent, with almost three quarters of the infections causing damage, a new survey said today.

And viruses are getting more aggressive, the survey commissioned by global software company Computer Associates found.

The researchers looked at over 180,000 business computers - representing about seven per cent of computers in Australian organisations.

Of the viruses which struck companies, 73 per cent affected business through lost labour, destroyed files and other disruptions.

Computer Associates business manager Peter Waterhouse said the increasing use of large in-house messaging systems and emails had made businesses more open to infection.

While three years ago a serious virus might have taken days to spread, a virus like ILOVEYOU, which struck in May this year, can spread around the world in just a few hours, Mr Waterhouse said.

'The traditional method of infection was relatively slow. But today's multi-megabit networks spread infections throughout global enterprises in only a matter of minutes,' he said.

While servers in smaller businesses were more vulnerable than in large businesses, large businesses took longer to recover from viruses.

Of all business, 69 per cent said they had been hit by a virus in the last year, while 84 per cent of large companies were infected, the survey found.

Although most businesses surveyed did update their anti-virus software regularly, almost 20 per cent still only update their software less than once a month - leaving them even more vulnerable.

Computer Associates business development manager Nick Engleman said one in five organisations did not have any formal means of tracking viruses. But even more concerning, he said, was that 33 per cent of organisations were unable to identify a virus after the attack.

Mr Engleman said the incidence of viruses in Australia had not been helped by contentious laws which made it 'notoriously difficult to prosecute' culprits in that it was necessary to prove 'intent'.

'It's fine to write the virus but not to send it,' he said.

He said the difficulty in quantifying the damage done by a virus also made it more difficult for the courts to come up with the right penalty.

Computer Associates research manager Frances Ludgate said there were around 50,000 viruses in the world at any one time, but that most of these were unsuccessful at damaging business.

She said about 20 at any one time were considered seriously damaging to business.

The survey was conducted over summer 2000, sampling more than 182,000 personal computers and 7,304 servers. It classified small business as having up to 100 computer screens, medium 500 to 800, and large as over 800.

Computer Associates Pty Ltd is an international business software company

-- Martin Thompson (, June 08, 2000

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