Statistics compiled by Telenor show that the amount of both spam and virus increased substantially in 2004. As Norway's largest Internet provider, Telenor currently has approximately 950.000 active e-mail subscribers. Thus, Telenor must employ a number of security services - ranging from around the clock monitoring of attempts at data hacking, to dynamic filters that kill spam and virus to protect their users.
There are now more than 100,000 known viruses in the world.
The major viruses (ranked according to the extent of their distribution)
in 2004 were:
Number Virus name
Individual Internet users can also protect themselves against spam and viruses by simple means. Here are a few useful steps:
* Install net centric virus and spam filters. A net centric filter will remove the problem before the e-mail reaches the recipient's network/server/PC
* Install personal anti-virus software and a firewall on the home PC
* Run upgrades of the operative system with respect to detecting security defects
* Be critical with respect to the files you download, mails you open etc.
* Use a surfing filter
* Increase the security level on the web browser
* Secure backups of important data on the PC
The virus activity at Telenor was highest in the first half of 2004, and reached its peak in June, when the e-mail virus zafi.b was causing much trouble. In addition to the Zafi virus, different versions of the Netsky and the Mydoom viruses also made a huge impact. During the last six months of the year the virus activity was somewhat lower.
The amount of Spam, or trash-mail, also increased in 2004. Telenor's spam and virus filters, which are able to filter about 70 percent of spam, killed a total of 652 million spam messages and 23 million viruses in 2004. In comparison, Telenor removed 90 million spam messages and 2.1 million viruses in 2003.
Most of the spam mails are attempts at selling different kinds of products, but we also see that many are direct attempts at fraud. "Phishing" is an example in the latter category, where criminals attempt to steal identities from serious companies with the aim of acquiring personal information, such as account numbers, PIN codes and similar from private individuals.
"This year we expect an increase of so-called smart viruses. Viruses may lie hidden in e-mails, or they may take control of people's computers without the owners being aware of it. We are also likely to see more attempts at hacking, where sensitive information stored on PCs can be misused. We recommend that all users take precautionary measures and protect themselves with the help of filters and we also recommend that they download security updates from software suppliers," says Rolv-Erik Spilling, director of Internet and data communications at Telenor Business Market.
In January, in an effort to help customers repel unwanted attacks, Telenor installed a central virus filter on all outgoing e-mails. Already two weeks after the filter was in operation, Telenor registered that the number of viruses sent from our customers has been reduced substantially.
"Now that we have installed a central virus filter on our servers, we are able to stop nearly all the viruses that customers send. This reduces the spread of the viruses substantially, and trough our monitoring we have registered that the amount of viruses is down by around a third," says Rolv-Erik Spilling.