E-mail viruses to test companies

Australian corporate help desks will be overburdened and over budget if they are unprepared for an expected increase in e-mail viruses such as ExploreZip, according to the Gartner Group's Joe Sweeney.

Sweeney said companies in the Asia-Pacific region have an increased likelihood of being infected by e-mail viruses because of the high use of pirated virus software and slack corporate e-mail policies.

While a majority of companies have adequate virus protection at the desktop and network levels, Sweeney said many need to improve the quality of virus scanning at the corporate gateway.

E-mail viruses, such as the ExploreZip, or MiniZip virus which infected several Australian companies last week, are known as "Trojan" viruses, because they enter computers as e-mail attachments -- usually as executable files.

The MiniZip virus was compressed with an obscure compression system called Neolite, which was invisible to most antivirus security systems.

"Companies should be equipped to stop these viruses entering the enterprise in the first place. They have to ensure that they, and the companies they deal with, have legal and updated virus software, and they have to set up policies to deal with email and invest in software to enforce those policies," Sweeney said.

"Companies should have stopped the MiniZip virus. This is not a technical issue, it is a policy issue," Sweeney said.

Viruses transmitted via e-mail now account for more than 40 per cent of all virus attacks, Sweeney said.

Meanwhile, Computer Associates and Symantec have warned of a new e-mail virus. The e-mail worm, known as Worm.Mypic or W32/MyPics.worm arrives as a message without a subject line with an attachment called Pics4You.exe.

If opened the worm can reformat user hard drives and change Internet Explorer home pages to an adult-content site.

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