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Virus map shows one in five machines have the pox

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Updated Consumer security firm McAfee.com has unveiled a real-time virus map which is designed to give computer users a visual indication of the spread of virus infections around the world.

During its research on the propagation of viruses which led to the creation of the map, McAfee.com scanned 39 billion files and discovered that an alarming one in five computers are infected with viruses.

McAfee.com's Application Service Provider (ASP) infrastructure allows it to collect and compile virus information gathered from around 780,000 subscribers who scan their systems using the service. The results of this scanning are added to a database which works out a users' location and records any viruses found.

The findings are then displayed on a world map. Users can click the map to see virus activity over the past 24 hours, 7 days or 30 days, on a US state, country, continent or worldwide scale.

"The advantage of our ASP model is that we can instrument computers worldwide to detect the thousands of viruses 'in the wild' in real-time," said Doug Cavit, chief information officer of McAfee.com. "By having this valuable intelligence on hand, we are able to track virus trends, anticipate outbreaks, alert the public to them and more rapidly deploy solutions when an outbreak does occur."

The map, which is available here, also displays a list of "Top 10 Viruses Worldwide", and links to information and advice about viruses that users should be particularly wary about. In terms of infected machines, viruses like Kakworm, Hybris and the APStrojan.qa Trojan Horse bug, which steals AOL passwords, are causing the most problems.

According to McAfee figures over the last 30 days, California, Maine, Illinois and Texas are the most infectious states of the Union, recording the most incidents of infected files. Germany and Britain have more infected computers than anywhere else in Europe.

The map doesn't show much of the effect of an Italian variant of the Love Bug virus, called Cartolina, which has been reportedly spreading throughout continental Europe overnight, hitting ten companies in Italy, France and Germany.

Cartolina, which arrives with the subject line "c'e una cartolina per te", Italian for 'here is a postcard for you", spreads by copying itself to everyone in the infected user's address book.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said: "Think before you click - ask yourself 'why is Ken from Walsall writing to me in Italian?'. Despite the Italians' amorous reputation, this is one Latin love letter users should avoid." ®

Update:

Rival antivirus firm Trend Micro has already established a similar service to McAfee, giving a map of virus infections worldwide. Trend's map is available here. Thanks to readers who emailed us about this.

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