Increasing Number of Firms Blame Data Loss on Viruses

The number of companies reporting disasters as a result of computer virus infections increased sharply this year, even though users are installing more virus-protection technologies than ever before, according to a recently completed survey conducted by security firm ICSA.net.

The reason? Companies may be relying too heavily on antivirus technologies alone to do the job, without paying enough attention to more generic and basic security measures such as e-mail and file attachment filtering and simple Web browser and word processor application changes, said Peter Tippett, ICSA's chief technology officer.

"It's probably better for companies to focus on more generic protection than on updating their antivirus protection [alone]," said Tippett.

Such efforts are especially crucial at a time when new virus strains capable of spreading much faster than previous ones are proliferating, he said.

Reston, Va.-based ICSA conducted the survey this past summer. More than 300 companies, mainly in North America, were polled; each firm had more than 300 computers.

The survey's sponsors include Minneapolis-based Gantz Wiley Research Consulting Group, Santa Clara, Calif.-based Network Associates Inc. and Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec Corp.

The following were among the survey's findings:

• The loss of productivity associated with virus attacks for a typical company surveyed costs between $100,000 and $1 million.

• Forty percent of companies reported data loss due to viruses, up from 17% in the previous year's survey.

• Two-thirds of companies experienced file problems from viruses, up from 50% in the previous survey.

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