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Get updating or risk contamination

According to Sophos, the top 10 reported viruses in August have all been in existence for months, a clear indication that few users are currently bothering to update their anti virus software.

The number one virus in August was the three month-old Zafi-B worm, which continues to wreak havoc on global e-mail, according to the IT security firm.

"Although we have seen a small, 10 per cent decline in reports of Zafi-B since last month, this e-mail-aware worm doesn't look like it's going to fade into obscurity anytime soon," said Carole Theriault, security consultant at Sophos.

"Protection against Zafi-B has been available for a couple of months now, and computer users need to get into the habit of updating their systems in a much more timely manner, or this nuisance will continue to dominate reports."

Sophos's top 10 list reveals five variants of the Netsky virus - despite the high-profile arrest of the virus author - the MyDoom-O, Bagle-AA and Lovgate-V.

"Despite more than 1,200 new viruses being detected in August, not one has made it into the chart this month. In fact, the entire top 10 is made up of viruses which have been doing the rounds for weeks, if not months," said Theriault.

August was a particularly bad month for virus attacks. Sophos analysed and protected against 1,230 viruses in the month, which the company says "is the highest number of new viruses seen in one single month since December 2001."

The latest threat to global e-mail systems is a Windows virus masquerading as a security update from Microsoft.

The worm, dubbed Swen or Gibe, comes as an e-mail attachment and exploits a two-year-old hole in Internet Explorer.

Nearly 35,000 copies of the worm in 82 countries have been reported by one security company, while another has classified it as a high risk.

Computer users are advised not to click on attachments in unknown e-mails and update their systems.

Microsoft has cautioned customers in the past against e-mail software updates, saying it does not distribute patches that way but rather directs them to its website.

Sources: BBC Online,, The Register

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