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Businesses are becoming ever more nervous with news that almost 100,000 viruses are worming their way around UK IT systems. A report by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) reveals that over 85 per cent of businesses believe that the problem will get worse in the future.

Despite such worries, only a quarter of businesses review their systems more than twice a year - a laissez faire approach to IT security that can lead to loss of earnings as well as customer records when they go down. Even more worrying is that 80 per cent of respondents believe that their customers and suppliers are even less concerned about IT security than they are.

With more small business investing in technology involving network systems and the creation of websites, the risk of falling prey to viruses has increased in all sectors. Andy Poulton at the DTI said: "As the numbers of websites, emails and electronic files increase, and the ways to access them become more flexible, the threat to information mounts.

"By understanding more about potential risks and putting a number of simple procedures in place, you will be able to raise the standard of your information security. By being able to guarantee secure online relationships you will accrue real business benefits, such as saving time and money, which were the top two benefits cited in the DTI survey."

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