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US businesses are failing to support safe computing advice from the Department of Homeland Security.

The Department of Homeland Security's National Infrastructure Protection Centre (NIPC) issued Seven Simple Computer Security Tips in 2002. Two years on, a survey of 111 enterprise IT managers commissioned by Secure Computing found that half the companies quizzed had failed to apply at least three of the tips.

The biggest problem areas were using easy-to-guess passwords (37 per cent of the surveyed organisations came a cropper on this score) and failure to back-up data systematically (31 per cent failed to verify the integrity of archived information at least once a month, as recommended by the NIPC).

On the bright side, nearly all respondents ensure that servers and workstations have functioning anti-virus software, and 90 per cent update virus signatures at least daily, or "when-available". This is good practice, but it doesn't provide complete protection against Internet worms, as illustrated by last week's Sasser outbreak.

Seasoned security watchers will be unsurprised by the findings - which mirror the results of a UK government-commissioned study published last month. It all goes to show that end user are as good at turning a deaf ear to government advice as they are at ignoring safe computing tips from security vendors. Vast reserves of patience will be required to turn this around. ®

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Homeland insecurity starts at home

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