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Despite large numbers of computer systems being struck down with deadly viruses over the past weeks, almost one-third of small firms do not think anti-virus or firewall protections is important to their business.

Research by BT Openworld found 28 per cent of companies claimed software solutions designed to protect their business from security threats would not be of use, particularly among firms employing less than five people.

However, with recent stories about the damaged caused by the Blaster worm virus, BT Openworld claimed the tide could be turning with more companies choosing to review their IT security.

The number of hits on the BT Openworld website rose by 500 per cent as businesses looked to find out how they could protect themselves from attack.

And sales of BT Openworld's Internet Security pack - which is designed for small firms and provide advanced security protection - had increased by around 100 per cent, the ISP claims.

Neville Manuel, VP of value added services at BT Openworld, said it was frightening how small companies were ignoring the risks of IT security threats.

"No matter what size business you are, a major security problem could bring all your systems to a halt.

"This can have a serious impact on a business, in terms of lost sales, reduced productivity and damaged reputation - these are all dangers no company can afford to ignore," he warned.

BT Openworld recently published an A to Z guide to security terms and acronyms entitled Cracking the Code with which it aims to help small firms overcome the security hazards they faced and ensure they were protected against attack.

To receive a free copy of Cracking the code - a guide to IT security, email Karyn Clarke ®

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