September 1, 2006 7:52 AM PDT

Two years on, Netsky-P tops virus charts

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Netsky-P led the top 10 chart for malicious software threats in August, retaining its rank despite the availability of fixes for more than two years.

During August, Netsky-P accounted for 19.9 percent of all malicious software incidents reported, according to a report released Friday by security researcher Sophos. Netsky-P, which remains the most widely spread of the e-mail worms, was ranked the worst virus of 2004.

Just one in 278 e-mails were infected during the month, a significant decrease compared with August 2005 when one in every 50 e-mails circulating were viral, according to Sophos.

Sophos identified a total of 1,998 new threats in August 2006, with Trojan horses accounting for 71.8 percent of those threats.

Netsky-P was followed by Mytob-AS, which accounted for 15.8 percent of malicious software reports, while Bagle-Zip accounted for 8 percent of reports, according to Sophos.

"It is certainly frustrating that such easily beaten threats are still plaguing our e-mail highways," Carole Theriault, a Sophos senior security consultant, said in a statement. "If you use the Internet and don't have proper security measures in place, you are not only endangering your data, you are keeping nasty old timers like Mytob and Netsky worms alive and kicking."

But some industry observers question the usefulness of keeping tabs on how widespread a virus roams, versus other metrics such as the degree in which it affects users' pocketbooks when sensitive data is stolen. Malicious attackers over the years have switched their agenda from seeking fame to obtaining profits.

See more CNET content tagged:
Netsky virus, Sophos Plc., malicious software, e-mail worm, accounting

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MUST take user out of the picture
Relying on the home user to protect their own assets is ludicrous. Most home users are incapable of even understanding how to secure their own PCs, and continue to run older versions of Windows (98/ME) that are insecure at best. ISPs should be implementing gateway filters in order to insulate the rest of the Internet from this crap. ISPs have started to step up, offering free security software bundles to subscribers, but the real breakthrough will take place when there is no choice but to have security in place. To that end, the OS vendors (Microsoft in particular, simply because they are the defacto standard for home PC users) also need to step up and start addressing the vulnerabilities that allow all of this to happen in the first place.
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