Computer users haven't learned any lessons from the spread of the Love Bug virus last year.
According to research published by IDC this week, more than a third (37 per cent) of business email users would still open the attachment of an email titled 'ILOVEYOU' - the same message used in emails infected with the Love Bug.
Arriving as an innocuous email from a recognised sender, the Love Bug spread like wildfire last May causing an estimated $10 billion damage, largely in lost productivity, as it brought down email servers worldwide.
Alex Shipp, senior anti-virus technologist at MessageLabs, which scans customers email for malicious code, said it still intercepted 20 copies of the Love Bug virus a day, indicating that many have not updated their anti-virus protection
The IDC survey, which questioned 150 people in job titles from secretary to managing director, found of those respondents who were personally responsible for updating anti-virus software nearly half of them left it longer than a month to do so.
Shipp added that fewer still have applied the Outlook patch Microsoft had issued to prevent other malicious code using the same tricks used by the Love Bug authors.
Mark Sunner, chief technology officer at MessageLabs, said of the survey findings: "On a day such as St Valentines' Day email users are vulnerable to unusual email, which creates an opportunity for virus writers.
"As Human beings we are naturally inquisitive and that makes us susceptible to a whole host of socially engineered viruses."
The report found that on any day of the year users would open an email appearing to be from someone they know if the following appeared in the subject line: Great Joke (54 per cent), Look at this (50 per cent), Message (46 per cent), No title (40 per cent) or special offer (39 per cent). ®