Thursday, 14 December 2006

SA business and public need to lead the fight in antivirus war

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{pp}The global economy loses a staggering $166bn each year as a result of malicious IT malware damage. And the principle cause? Mostly the failure of companies and private users to protect themselves with effective antivirus solutions and up-to-date patches. In a country where Internet usage is rising rapidly year on year, the damage caused by malware has become a serious concern for Internet users throughout Southern Africa.
Eset’s latest Global Threat Trend Report, which includes South African data, highlights the top ranking malware threats to appear globally during October (malware is short for "malicious software" and includes computer viruses, Trojans, worms, spyware and adware). This unique report, based on statistical data collected worldwide from a staggering 10 million systems, has tracked a total of 10,000 different threats and malware families in the real world. The data provides a comprehensive view of the behaviour and spread of malware and documents the most prevalent of these threats each month – Win32/Stration, Win32/trojanDownloader.Swizzor and UpstartSmall.KJ appeared at the top of October’s list.

Month after month, South Africa continues to be hit by malicious viruses, despite the majority of them requiring end-user interaction in order to function at all – so it appears we are not learning very well from our mistakes. Clearly ignorance is primarily to blame for the damage caused. Damage varies from less significant infections, which simply eat up Internet bandwidth and system resources, to destruction of data files and serious loss of private and confidential information such as corporate data or personal identity information e.g. Internet banking details. Companies can also be used as platforms to anonymously distribute large quantities of “spam” mail or transfer illicit goods such as pirated games, movies and music internationally can also occur.

To win the malware war, users need to become their own first line of defense against virus attacks. So, what can local businesses and private users do to prevent getting infected by the latest malicious malware outbreaks? Justin Stanford, CEO of Eset Southern Africa, producer of NOD32 Antivirus System – offers this essential advice for keeping infection at bay:

· Install and maintain an effective up-to-date antivirus package – don’t allow an attack to slip into your security gap. Many operating systems provide an automatic method of doing this;
· Don’t ignore unusual activity;
· Ensure staff members are educated properly about internet security;
· Check the origin of emails you feel wary of or weren’t expecting;
· Choose an antivirus that will be effective in the short term, with intelligent capabilities for protection during new outbreaks; and
· Choose an antivirus with an easy to maintain, self-updating design for long-term protection.

Despite continual exposure from media coverage on outbreaks and the damage caused, most end-users in general are still not sufficiently aware of what they need to know in order to identify a potential threat and how to go about dealing with it. Users need to be aware, for example, that worms typically arrive as e-mails, and that they often fake the “From”: address to look like someone they know. Generally these mails contain an attachment, and usually use some clever trick to get you to open the attachment.

Casual user and staff attitudes towards e-mails with attachments, particularly given that the majority of worm emails typically have “disreputable” subject lines that make them easily identifiable, need to change. The reality is that most infections start as a result of users not paying careful enough attention to what they are opening.

IT criminals continue to stun the world with increasingly malicious, intelligent malware that attacks both private and corporate PCs and networks, to create chaos, destroy and steal data and seek recognition in the IT underworld.

South Africans need to become the first line of defence against virus attack, rather than another link in the chain of IT destruction.

Contact Details:
Lucy Kenny 
Traffic Marketing 
Phone: 021 425 7111 
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