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Updated Security incidents and attacks were up 36.6 per cent over the first three months of this year.

According to security tool firm ISS' quarterly Internet Risk Impact Summary Report (IRIS) security attacks rose by a third from Q4 2002 to Q1 2003. Security attacks are up 84 per cent from Q3 2002 to Q1 2003, according to revised figures released by the company last night.

This increase was coupled with a ten-fold jump in overall security events (automatic probes, scans for vulnerabilities etc.) in the first three months of 2003 compared to the last quarter of 2002.

Viral activity is the main reason behind this increase, according to ISS. It tracked 752 new worms and hybrid threats in the first quarter of 2003, compared to 101 in the fourth quarter of 2002.

Much of the increase in malicious activity can be attributed to the emergence of the prolific SQL Slammer worm in January. On its own this accounted for a huge upswing in activity - especially compared to a noticeably quiet period at the end of last year.

Although viral activity was up ISS recorded a drop in new vulnerabilities from 644 in Q4 2002 to 606 in Q1 2003.

Internet Security Systems' IRIS provides a quarterly snap-shot of cyber-attack trends based on statistics from its large network of number of monitored security devices, actual attacks detected and researched vulnerabilities.

The top two attack categories for security events monitored by ISS include "suspicious activity" (73.5 per cent of total events), and unauthorized access attempts (11 per cent of events recorded).

Retail (35 per cent) and financial services companies (11.5 per cent) were the most commonly attacked industry sectors during Q1 2003.

The complete Q1 2003 Internet Risk Impact Summary Report is available for free download on Internet Security Systems' Web site here. ®

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