More than a third of SA’s small and medium businesses that were connected to the Internet were at risk from the MyDoom virus that clogged up the world’s networks over the last few days. According to "The Goldstuck Report: Internet access in SA 2004", released by World Wide Worx recently, frequency of anti-virus updates among a large proportion of these SMEs was inadequate, and one in every five Internet-connected SMEs was at high risk from viruses. "Just under half of all SMEs using the Internet were updating their anti-virus software on a daily basis," says Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx, a local independent technology research organisation. "That number would have been even lower were it not for the wide-scale virus and security scares that we experienced in the last six months, but it is still nowhere near acceptable."

The Internet Access report includes a connectivity survey of 2,200 small, medium and micro enterprises, conducted in collaboration with SME outsourcing organisation Netsurit. The survey showed that just under a third of the SMEs interviewed were updating their anti-virus software on a weekly basis, placing them at medium risk, while 20% either were unaware of frequency, or updated their protection only once a month or less, putting them in the high-risk category.

"Many SMEs are relying on the anti-virus protection supplied by their ISPs," says Goldstuck, "but it is still irresponsible not to have up-to-date protection on your own computer or network." MyDoom, also known as the Novarg virus, is estimated to have comprised between 30% and 40% of all e-mail traffic globally in the last week of January. Its effects include the creation of a "back door", which allows the perpetrators of the virus to access any document on an infected computer, as well as to use the computer to launch further attacks. "Without virus protection on their computers or at their ISP, the typical SME with an Internet connection was in serious trouble," says Goldstuck.

TelkomInternet reported last week that it had quarantined 502 768 virus infected email messages since January 26. Of these, 464 503 were infected with the MyDoom virus.

ICT World