Five years ago: Macro viruses spreading like wildfire

Virus infections are on the rise, tripling in US big business over the last year and growing at a rapid clip here in the UK

First published 16 April, 1997.

Virus infections are on the rise, tripling in US big business over the last year and growing at a rapid clip here in the UK. Although anti-virus products are being used more than ever before, macro viruses in doctments distributed by e-mail are wreaking havoc and account for much of the increase, according to the National Computer Security Association (NCSA) which conducted the study.

40 per cent of all PCs in surveyed companies will get a virus inside a year, according to the study. The survey also found that electronic mail is now one of the leading methods of transmitting viruses. 80 per cent of all infections were macro viruses in WP and spreadsheet files, up from 49 per cent a year ago. The most prevalent viruses are Word.Concept and Wazzu, both stemming from Word documents.

"It's certainly true that macro viruses have caused a lot of hassle in the UK," said Graham Cluley, senior technical consultant at ant-virus software firm Dr Solomon's. "More and more are getting in the wild. This month there are 537, there were 215 in December 1996, in August there were 50, and in April there were 13. People exchange documents via the Web, e-mail and [groupware] far more frequently than previously. In the past you were pretty unlikely to get an infection this way but now everyone receives documents by mail."

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