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Corporate virus infection rate on the rise

July 26, 1999
Web posted at: 10:21 a.m. EDT (1421 GMT)

by Kathleen Ohlson hackers graphic

(IDG) -- As security experts keep pounding users and corporations to use antivirus software, the rate of virus infections is still rising -- despite most PCs and servers having antivirus software installed, according to an annual survey conducted by ICSA Inc.

In January and February of this year, the average rate of infection per month per thousand PCs was approximately twice the rate in 1998 and four times that of 1997, the Reston, Va., security company said. ICSA is affiliated with Gartner Group Inc.

Yet among the technology professionals surveyed at 300 U.S. companies and government organizations, 83% said at least nine out of 10 of their PCs are protected by some form of antivirus software, ICSA said.
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It's not enough for companies and users to install antivirus software on servers and desktops, said Larry Bridwell, technical program manager for ICSA Labs, which conducted the study.

Along with updating the software regularly, companies must implement security policies and educate users, such as warning them not to open documents if they don't know the sender. "It's too dangerous," Bridwell said. "Viruses have become very dynamic," spreading through downloads and attachments.

Other findings include the following:

  • Average recovery time for major infections (25 infected PCs or more at once) was 24 hours.

  • The median cost for those kinds of virus disasters, including employee downtime, was $1,750. Some respondents reported that costs totaled $100,000 in a single virus event.

  • By spreading through automated e-mail, Melissa hit a huge portion of users within the first few weeks.

    Survey sponsors included Computer Associates International Inc., Network Associates Inc., Panda Software and Symantec Corp. Anyone interested in seeing the results can register, free of charge, to view the survey on the ICSA Web site.

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