NEC to step up battle against PC viruses, worms

NEC is taking recent computer virus and security problems to heart and has begun notifying users when potential security problems exist on their PCs.

From this week it has started setting pre-installed support software to monitor the security level of Internet Explorer and warn users when the settings have been changed from the recommended medium security level. This is to guard against the lowering of settings without the user's knowledge by viruses or worms, a spokesperson for NEC, Aki Ota, said.

From the middle of November the company will also begin prompting users to install operating system patches.

Users would be prompted before any changes were made and the remainder of the process would be automatic if the user agreed to the action, NEC said.

The functions will be enabled on new PCs and also those sold since October 2002 on which NEC's dedicated support software is running.

The software polled an NEC support server for messages and updates from the company to the user and it would use this polling mechanism to enable the new functions, the spokesperson said.

The company, one of Japan's largest PC makers, said it was taking the measure to help protect its consumer users from problems caused by viruses and worms.

Several recent high-profile computer viruses had indicated that many users do not bother downloading patches and updates for their operating system.

Microsoft issued a patch in mid-July that would protect systems from the Blaster worm, however, the quick spread of the worm some weeks later pointed to many unpatched systems on the Internet.

In response, the company said it was considering automatic patching of systems, similar to the action NEC has decided to take.

One of the actions included on a security CD-ROM Microsoft began distributing free to Japanese users in September was to switch on the Windows Update function.

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