UK business unprepared for virus attacks

IT managers are neglecting network security, at the risk of serious damage when the next big virus outbreak occurs, finds a new study

Many British firms are neglecting the security of their computer systems and are likely to be crippled by the next major virus attack, according to new research.

Security firm McAfee has warned that, by not adequately protecting themselves, companies are running the risk of network failure and expensive downtime when the next big virus strikes. So far this year there has not been a really major virus attack, and McAfee believes this is why many companies aren't giving sufficient attention to security management.

McAfee interviewed 100 IT managers. It found that while 90 percent of them claim to have the resources needed to protect their network, over 80 percent admitted to suffering from virus attacks.

McAfee also found that almost half of firms aren't updating their virus protection often enough, while many companies are failing to educate end users about network security -- a potentially dangerous combination, especially as the number of viruses in circulation is on the increase.

In short, McAfee is claiming the UK business sector is sitting on a time bomb that will go off once someone creates a virus as dangerous as Nimda, which caused havoc last year. "When the next big virus strikes, companies will not have the defences in place to adequately protect themselves. Workforces are still uneducated and networks vulnerable to attack. The management of security has fallen off the IT managers 'to do' list and will only appear next time the network is crippled," the company warned.

The Nimda virus caused extensive damage when it rampaged across the Internet last September, attacking corporate networks, home PCs and ISPs. According to reports, it knocked out ADSL services at two BT exchanges.

Several new viruses have already caused damage this year, but as yet none have caused the widespread chaos seen in 2001 with Nimda, Code Red, SirCam and Magistr. McAfee warns, though, that a big virus will occur again.

For all security-related news, including updates on the latest viruses, hacking exploits and patches, check out ZDNet UK's Viruses and Hacking News Section.

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