Virus protection: it's time to patch things up!

Wednesday, 26 November 2003, 11:49 AM EST

Gartner's pronouncement that, 'through 2005, 90 per cent of cyber attacks will exploit known security flaws for which a patch is available or a solution known' will not be a huge surprise to anyone. Rather, with viruses continuing to cost businesses billions of pounds every year, it seems the biggest issue facing both the software industry and IT management everywhere is why this is still the case. Patch management, or knowing which systems are patched - and which are not - as well as ensuring new patches are quickly and effectively installed, is becoming a key concern to many corporations as a result.

Government bodies are reacting to the common threat posed by virus attack with legislation. The US may be leading the way but Europe and the UK are not far behind. The UK Data Protection Act has for some time demanded data be stored securely, and the UK Financial Services and Markets Act requires that financial organisations can produce data within 24 hours. However, the question of whether viruses threaten the integrity of systems and data to the extent that being infected infringes on these Acts remains a grey area. For instance, if data is deleted by a virus, it is safe to assume that the data was not secure and could not be delivered upon demand easily.

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