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2003: the virus strikes back?

As Sophos warns of new virus threats, our advice is to make a new year’s resolution you can keep and get your anti-virus software up to date.

While most of us remember 2001 as a year of nightmarish virus releases ― code red, anyone? ― 2002 was a much quieter ride. Indeed, the biggest headline arguably came in May when David Smith, 34, was finally jailed for developing the Melissa virus three years ago and ordered off the internet until otherwise authorised by a court.

But the new year is not a time for complacency. While no single virus wreaked enough havoc to scoop the limelight, several nasty programs ate their way around the internet for months.

Many emerging viruses have used the names of popular celebrities, typically women, to encourage users to open the offending email and trigger the attack. Consider Shakira, Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez, to name but a few.

The biggest virus of 2002 was the Windows Klez worm which first appeared in March. As reported on itp.net’s own virus watch, Bugbear reigned supreme at the top of Sophos’ virus chart in November 2002, accounting for some 29.4% of all reported infections. The virus allows hackers to monitor users’ keystrokes, and knocked Klez off the top spot back in October.

This month, Sophos was recognised as one of the fastest growing companies in Europe by the Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu European Technology Fast 500 competition. Sophos was recognised on its three year percentage revenue growth from 1999-2001, coming in at 141%.

That’s impressive growth by anyone’s standards, testament not only to successful management, but also to the doggedness of many malicious viruses. And 2003 does not promise to buck the unfortunate growth trend. So if you’re looking for a resolution you can keep this year, start by getting your anti-virus software up to date.

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