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intY Finds Businesses Open To Attack

Posted: 05th Sep, 2005 By: MarkJ
UK ISP intY has found that more than half of UK organisations still filter their spam and viruses in-house, at the desktop or network gateway level, placing them at risk of email Denial of Service (DoS) attacks:

The research also found that 71% of respondents mistakenly think their organisation is not vulnerable to these kinds of attacks.

Many organisations with anti-spam and anti-virus filters at the network gateway or desktop level, allow all email, including spam and virus-infected emails, to reach employee inboxes, potentially exposing them to the risk of an email DoS attack. However, having these filters at the Internet-level can stop spam and viruses reaching the network, removing the risk of virus infection and allowing organisations to eliminate the bandwidth used by downloading spam.

"Even the Greater Manchester Police has fallen victim to an email DoS attack. Earlier this year its chief constable was bombarded with 2,000 emails per hour by cyber criminals in an attempt to crash the force's computer systems. Yet less than half of organisations have taken the right precautions and only 29% believe they are at risk at all. Businesses need to realise that it could happen to them too," said Mark Herbert, founder of intY.

"It is worrying that so many organisations have their heads in the sand and don't realise they are vulnerable to attacks that could potentially bring their businesses to a standstill. While email DoS attacks are quite new, they are increasing and slowly making headlines. Most people think of online gambling websites when they think of targets of DoS attacks, however all businesses need to realise that they could easily be attacked through email. It's a danger facing us all."

The research also revealed that 92% of IT managers believe that ISPs are not doing enough to reduce the amount of spam and viruses reaching their customers' inboxes and networks. Although most ISPs do offer a basic level of anti-spam and anti-virus protection, many businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the new dangers that email and the Internet can pose to their business and realise that this basic level of protection is not enough. While 67% of respondents trust their third party provider, the results indicate that ISPs need to provide their customers with more enhanced security by offering them anti-spam and anti-virus technology which filters email at the Internet level.

Despite the recent conviction of computer virus writer Sven Jaschan or the government introducing legislation like the Computer Misuse Act 1990, 93% of the questioned IT managers still believe that security legislation will not fix the problem or be an efficient deterrent to cyber criminals. This indicates that it is vital for businesses to put the right measures in place to protect themselves against the consequences of spam attacks, viruses or any other form of malware.


The research itself was undertaken by an independent research company called Vanson Bourne using 100 IT managers from the UK.

Similarly, while offering ‘OPTIONAL’ server-side protection is always welcomed, enforcing it can also have a negative impact where the erasing of legitimate messages occurs. Sadly this is common with all such filters.
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