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The Internet "could become unusable as a means of communication" if something is not done about email viruses, security firm MessageLabs warns.

The company which scans the email of corporate clients for viruses, predicts that one in ten emails transmitted via the Internet will contain a virus by 2008, and as many as one in two by 2013. This compares to one in every 300 emails containing viruses the firm blocks at present.

According to a press release (titled "Believe the Hype: Future Spread of Email Viruses Threatens Internet") issued by MessageLabs today, this approaching deluge of infected email will become so great that "people will simply stop using email".

When we took Alex Shipp, senior anti-virus technologist at MessageLabs, to task over this warning he conceded the release was "alarmist".

Email-borne viruses are an increasing problem, particularly since the outbreak of the SirCam worm, but several measures can be taken already to mitigate their effects.

More widespread filtering by ISPs, changes at the operating system level and greater use of AV software by home users will all help. But this does not make for such a good headline.

For more prophets of Internet doom, check out VMyths.com, and its
scornful dismissal of reports that a "'powerful coalition of U.S. government and industry groups contemplated advising citizens to stay off the Internet completely to avoid being infected by Nimda.' This idea is as absurd now as it was in 1999 when it first became fashionable". ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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