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MS Outlook improvements unlikely to stem tide

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BadTrans-B remains, two months after it was first released, the most infectious virus on the Internet.

The mass-mailing email worm heads the monthly chart of virus reports compiled by antivirus vendor Sophos and accounts for 61.1 per cent of calls to its support centre this month. It was followed by MyParty-A (4.3 per cent), the short-lived mass mailing virus that caused flak earlier this week, and the Magistr-B (3.6 per cent).

792 new viruses were discovered and protected against by Sophos Anti-Virus during January 2002, which now detects and protects against 71,984 sundry pieces of malicious code.

Statistics on viruses blocked by MessageLabs, a managed service provider which scans its users email for malicious code, tell a similar story.

In the last four weeks MessageLabs blocked 48,393 emails infected with BadTrans-B. SirCam-A, with 39,625 infection bearing emails stopped, and MyParty (35,603) also feature prominently.

Alex Shipp, chief antivirus technologist at MessageLabs, was sceptical whether Microsoft's recent commitment to product security, which must involve making Outlook less of a vector for viruses, will do any good.

"We've gone past the point where Outlook improvements will do much good because most viruses that come out now have their own SMTP engine," he said.

For between one and two pounds per month consumer ISPs could introduce a virus scanning service for home users, and such services have been introduced in Germany but not - as yet - the UK.

According to Shipp, ISPs in the UK are running on such tight business models and competing heavily on price so it is difficult for them to introduce new services. Secondly introducing virus scanning has privacy implications and ISPs would need to get users to sign new contracts in order to introduce new services. ®

Top ten viruses reported to Sophos in January


  1. BadTrans-B
  2. MyParty-A
  3. Magistr-B
  4. SirCam
  5. Nimda-A
  6. Maldal-G
  7. Magistr-A
  8. Gokar-A
  9. Klez-E
  10. Nimda-D


External links

Latest monthly stats from MessageLabs

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