Virus outbreaks are continuing to get worse even as network defenses continue to advance, according to a new survey released Monday.
About 1.2 million virus incidents occurred during the 20-month survey period, and about 28 percent of all of the respondents had 25 or more servers or PCs infected at once, an event termed a virus disaster in the report. That number represents a decline from 51 percent in the 2000 survey.
The survey, conducted by ICSA Labs, a division of TruSecure Corp., of Herndon, Va., polled 200 organizations as part of a research effort sponsored by anti-virus vendors Network Associates Inc., Panda Software and Symantec Corp., and Gantz-Wiley Research.
Viruses were not only more prevalent during the last year and a half, theyve also become more costly. The average U.S. corporation now pays somewhere between $100,000 and $1 million on virus cleanup and removal, according to the Virus Prevalence Survey.
The studys authors also found that host-based worms such as Nimda and Code Red are becoming more common, a finding that should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the state of Internet security recently. Such threats combine known software vulnerabilities with self-propagating viruses and other attack vectors to infect hundreds of thousands of machines.
"Effective security practices and policies are essential in helping organizations reduce their exposure to malicious code," said Larry Bridwell, content security programs manager at ICSA Labs and co-author of the survey. "In todays environment, an unknown threat is much more likely to cause a virus disaster than a known threat due to the speed at which viruses propagate. Anti-virus vendors and end-user organizations can no longer take a reactive approach to combating these threats."