A survey from Sophos, a global leader in anti-virus protection
for businesses, has revealed that nearly half of small to
medium-sized businesses* only update their anti-virus software once
a week or even less regularly. This is despite the fact that the
latest email and internet-aware viruses often spread around the
globe within a matter of minutes and that around 150 new viruses
are analysed each week. In contrast, 29 per cent of larger
companies update their anti-virus software with this frequency.
Sophos's poll was completed by more than 4,500 system
administrators at companies of all sizes from all around the
Sophos believes that, by neglecting to update anti-virus
protection on a more frequent basis, SMEs are continuing to put
their networks and critical data at risk by not adequately guarding
themselves against the latest virus threats.
"Updating your anti-virus software only once a week is like
brushing your teeth only once a week - it only gives you the
minimum protection and could lead to painful consequences in the
future," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos
Anti-Virus. "Hundreds of new viruses are discovered every month and
some can spread internationally in no time at all. All companies,
regardless of size, should review their anti-virus policies
regularly ensuring that their anti-virus products are updated
frequently enough to protect their systems from new threats."
The poll also revealed that only 46 per cent of SMEs have
implemented anti-virus gateway protection (to combat viruses and
worms which spread via email) compared with 70 per cent of larger
companies which have taken appropriate steps to monitor their
gateways for virus threats. Mass-mailing viruses dominate the
infections reported to virus companies. In fact, the top ten
viruses reported to
Sophos in 2002 all travelled via email.
Several tools are available to help SMEs manage their anti-virus
software. Automated systems can be scheduled to check for updates
from a dedicated server on an hourly basis and even laptop and
remote home workers can be provided with the latest virus
protection. Email gateways, the primary entry point for most virus
infections, can be protected by products which offer threat
reduction technology - blocking potential carriers at the gateway
to dramatically reduce the chances of both known and unknown
email-aware viruses entering an organisation.
Manager product can be deployed to check for automatic updates
protects email gateways.
* Businesses with less than 250 employees.