Viruses, worms proliferating

Think the number of computer viruses is growing? You're right. Symantec's Antivirus Research Center picks up 10 to 15 new viruses every day.

Think the number of computer viruses is growing? You’re right.

“We get 10 to 15 new viruses every day,” said Carey Nachenberg, chief researcher at Symantec.’s Antivirus Research Center in Santa Monica, Calif.

Viruses, typically spread via e-mail or floppies, aren’t the real threat. That dubious distinction belongs to computer worms, such as the ExploreZip variant of the infamous Melissa, Nachenberg said. “A worm doesn’t wait for you to e-mail it; it spreads itself.”

Computer Associates International Inc. in Islandia, N.Y., is advising clients to update antivirus software daily through Jan. 1.

But given the difficulties of distributing new virus and worm definitions to each machine on a network, a full-scale rollout of daily antivirus updates would probably be overdoing it, Nachenberg said.

“If you’re going for a daily update, I’d say just do the e-mail gateway because a lot of worms are obtained via e-mail,” he said.

CA is also urging users to ensure computers are Y2K-ready.

Nachenberg said Symantec expects to field some calls about viruses on Jan. 1, but “typically we can handle them all by adding one or two new signatures” to the company’s antivirus software.

Daily updates are available from both vendors’ Web sites.

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