|Some viruses may be disguised as festive joke
programs this holiday season
Sophos, a world leader in anti-virus and anti-spam protection
for businesses, is today warning computer users to exercise caution
when setting up new PCs or laptops they receive for Christmas.
Many PCs available on the high street come with software which
was produced many months before, so their security patches are out
Similarly anti-virus software, often bundled with a home
computer, is unlikely to provide out-of-the-box protection for
recent viruses. With more than 700 new viruses identified in
November alone, protection that is just a couple of months old
could seriously compromise computer security.
"The latest PC or snazzy laptop will be at the top of many
people's Christmas list this year," said Graham Cluley, senior
technology consultant at Sophos. "There's an assumption that a
computer straight off the shelf will be ready to go, but I've seen
people have to download a staggering 38MB of security patches onto
a brand-new PC, that can take from dusk 'til dawn via a modem. The
first job after unwrapping a PC should be to make sure that the
system is properly protected - applying appropriate patches to the
operating system, installing a personal firewall and updating
anti-virus software - or users could get more than they bargained
for. A computer virus would be a very unwelcome Christmas
Sophos also advises computer users not to let their guard down
over the festive period.
"Opening joke programs, screensavers, and electronic greetings
cards increases the risk of virus infection at any time but can
prove to be a particular problem during the holiday season when it
is all too easy to let your guard slip and leave yourself open to
attack. Safe computing is a must all
year round," continued Cluley.
Information for home users on keeping the Microsoft operating
system up-to-date is available from Microsoft's website.
Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.