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Viruses thrive on the apathy of UK office workers

Apathetic and time-poor employees are costing UK businesses millions in virus clean-up charges, according to new research conducted by Novell, and market information group, TNS.

Two-thirds of the 1,000 people interviewed were unaware of even the most basic virus prevention measures and one in five surveyed said they were simply "too busy to download anti-virus updates".

Overwhelmed by the volume of email they received, a third of respondents claimed to be too busy to check mail before opening it and shockingly, two thirds said they wouldn’t have a clue what a virus-infected email looked like even if they did come across one.

Even though 62 percent of UK workers rate viruses as the number one security risk, the report reveals that workers are blasé about the possibility of aiding and abetting virus attacks on company systems.

In fact, over half say that they would “not be particularly bothered” if they encountered an attack and only five per cent said they would be worried if they personally had spread the virus.

A staggering nine in ten of workers believe that they have no part to play in preventing the spread of viruses and prefer to leave responsibility to their IT department, Microsoft or the government.

UK workers are just as lax about other aspects of security, the survey found.

For example, one in ten respondents wrote down their computer passwords on a Post-it note as a reminder, whilst more than half (58 per cent) regularly forward spam to friends and colleagues without thinking.

“UK workers, through lack of time, technology know-how or care, put their business at risk by making basic security errors,” said Steve Brown, managing director of Novell UK.

“People are highly aware of the dangers posed by viruses but don’t take any personal responsibility for minimising risks. Unless UK businesses start to take end user education seriously, we are going to see the impact of cyber crime spiral in 2004.”

Sources: Novell, The Register, TNS

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