Virus infection rates soar

One in 700 emails now contains malicious code


The number of email viruses soared last year to the point where one in 700 emails was infected, according to a survey by a firm which scans electronic communications for malicious code.

MessageLabs, which scans over 3 million emails per day, said it had detected and stopped an average of one email virus every three minutes during 2000. In some months, the number of viruses per email reached one in 700, up from one in 2000 at the start of the year.

May - the month of the Love Bug - saw 23,290 viruses detected, but that was by no means the worst. October topped the list with 30,678 virus incidents.

Alex Shipp, chief anti-virus technologist at MessageLabs, said: "Virus activity now is as bad as when the Love Bug was out. People's guard has gone down and they've got lax. There are no real killer viruses out there at the moment that would really alert people."

He added that typical of such viruses currently doing the rounds is the Prolin worm which poses as 'a great Shockwave Flash movie'. Prolin replicates by opening the address book in Outlook Express, scans all available disk drives and infects ZIP, MP3 and JPEG files.

Other viruses in the 'top 10' public enemy list included the Love Bug and JS/Kak-m, the worm virus that embeds itself in Outlook Express without having to open an attachment.

Jack Clark, European product manager at Network Associates, said that last year saw an explosion in mail-enabled viruses, many of which targeted Outlook users because the program is the most commonly used email client. He predicted that viruses on platforms such as Palm and WinCE will become more of a problem as personal digital assistants use becomes common in business.

MessageLabs' Shipp said that 2001 will prove as dire a year for infection as 2000 unless "IT departments pull their finger out and update their software" and users learn that opening an attachment they are not expecting means running a high risk of infection. ®

Related stories

Virus writers and cracker love-in
Communists, Blofeld et al plan cyber Pearl Harbor for US
Outbreak of viruses disguised as vaccines


Other stories you might like

  • You need to RTFM, but feel free to use your brain too
    But I was only following the procedures!

    Who, Me? Monday is here, and with it a warning that steadfast determination to ignore instructions might not be such a silly thing after all. Welcome to Who, Me?

    Today's story comes from a reader Regomized as "Sam" and takes us back to his first proper IT job following his departure from the education system.

    Sam found himself on the mainframe operations team for a telecommunications company. The work was, initially, pretty manual stuff. The telco wasn't silly, and had its new recruits start by performing offline duties, such as gathering tapes and job tickets for batch runs, handling payslips, "basically anything involving a bit of leg work," he told us.

    Continue reading
  • Tropical island paradise ponders tax-free 'Digital Nomad Visa'
    Live and work in Bali, pay tax at home

    The government of Indonesia has once again raised the idea of creating a "digital nomad visa" that would allow foreign workers to live and work in the tropical paradise of Bali, tax free, for five years.

    The idea was raised before the COVID-19 pandemic, but understandably shelved as borders closed and the prospect of any digital nomads showing up dropped to zero.

    But in recent interviews Sandiaga Uno, Indonesia's minister for Tourism and the Creative Economy, said the visa was back on the drawing board.

    Continue reading
  • Small in Japan: Hitachi creates its own (modest) cloud
    VMware-powered sovereign cloud not going to challenge hyperscalers, but probably won't be the last such venture

    Hitachi has taken a modest step towards becoming a public cloud provider, with the launch of a VMware-powered cloud in Japan that The Register understands may not be its only such venture.

    The Japanese giant has styled the service a "sovereign cloud" – a term that VMware introduced to distinguish some of its 4,000-plus partners that operate small clouds and can attest to their operations being subject to privacy laws and governance structures within the nation in which they operate.

    Public cloud heavyweights AWS, Azure, Google, Oracle, IBM, and Alibaba also offer VMware-powered clouds, at hyperscale. But some organizations worry that their US or Chinese roots make them vulnerable to laws that might allow Washington or Beijing to exercise extraterritorial oversight.

    Continue reading
  • Beijing probes security at academic journal database
    It's easy to see why – the question is, why now?

    China's internet regulator has launched an investigation into the security regime protecting academic journal database China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), citing national security concerns.

    In its announcement of the investigation, the China Cyberspace Administration (CAC) said:

    Continue reading
  • Cerebras sets record for 'largest AI model' on a single chip
    Plus: Yandex releases 100-billion-parameter language model for free, and more

    In brief US hardware startup Cerebras claims to have trained the largest AI model on a single device powered by the world's largest Wafer Scale Engine 2 chip the size of a plate.

    "Using the Cerebras Software Platform (CSoft), our customers can easily train state-of-the-art GPT language models (such as GPT-3 and GPT-J) with up to 20 billion parameters on a single CS-2 system," the company claimed this week. "Running on a single CS-2, these models take minutes to set up and users can quickly move between models with just a few keystrokes."

    The CS-2 packs a whopping 850,000 cores, and has 40GB of on-chip memory capable of reaching 20 PB/sec memory bandwidth. The specs on other types of AI accelerators and GPUs pale in comparison, meaning machine learning engineers have to train huge AI models with billions of parameters across more servers.

    Continue reading
  • Zendesk sold to private investors two weeks after saying it would stay public
    Private offer 34 percent above share price is just the thing to change minds

    Customer service as-a-service vendor Zendesk has announced it will allow itself to be acquired for $10.2 billion by a group of investors led by private equity firm Hellman & Friedman, investment company Permira, and a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

    The decision is a little odd, in light of the company's recent strategic review, announced on June, which saw the board unanimously conclude "that continuing to execute on the Company's strategic plan as an independent, public company is in the best interest of the Company and its stockholders at this time."

    That process saw Zendesk chat to 16 potential strategic partners and ten financial sponsors, including a group of investors who had previously expressed conditional interest in acquiring the company. Zendesk even extended its discussions with some parties but eventually walked away after "no actionable proposals were submitted, with the final bidders citing adverse market conditions and financing difficulties at the end of the process."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022