High virus alert for Ireland

12 Nov 2002

According to a global internet security company, the spam rate for Ireland is relatively stable, but computer virus corruption is an increasing problem.

“The global picture for spam has worsened throughout 2002, settling at a ratio of around one in six. However, the spam outlook for Ireland appears to be rather more stable, with an annual average of around one in 30,” said Paul Wood (pictured) of UK-based MessageLabs.

Over 380,000 emails were scanned last month for MessageLabs’ Irish customers, of which 27,000 were intercepted as spam.

New tricks, such as e-greeting cards, which invite users to download software causing them to unwittingly spam everyone in their address book, are on the increase. “In the run-up to Christmas when people are keen to send greeting cards to their friends, there is the potential for these ruses to grow,” said Wood.
Despite perceptions that much of inbox junk is advertising pornography, such emails are actually on the decrease with only around 10pc being porn-related.

There are plenty of other ways to frustrate email users, from miracle diet cures, to offers of Viagra and too-good-to-be-true loans. There has also been a rise in the number of financial scams from places such as Nigeria, Wood added.
As part of MessageLabs’ anti-virus service for Irish customers, over 460,000 emails were scanned, of which, over 86,000 were intercepted as containing viruses. “The trend for Ireland is in line with the global perspective. However, it would seem that the ratio of viruses in email being stopped for Irish customers is much greater than the global average,” he said.

Last month, the Klez virus (first intercepted in April 2002) accounted for over 90pc of all viruses being intercepted for customers in Ireland. Its closest rival being Bugbear (first intercepted in September 2002), which accounted for just over 6pc of the viruses being stopped for Irish customers, according to Wood.

Over 2.43pc of the viruses intercepted worldwide last month originated from sources in Ireland, according to MessageLabs. This means that of the 1.5 million viruses that were stopped worldwide during October, over 36,000 were Irish in origin. “This is enough to place Ireland at number six in the top ten of active countries for October,” said Wood.

“Considering this and that an average ratio of email viruses for Irish customers being around 1 in 5.4 for October, it does suggest that there may be a virus problem in Ireland,” he added.

MessageLabs is a global internet security service provider, with clients including several internet service providers and also major organisations, such as Lloyds TSB and the UK Government.

By Lisa Deeney