Virus tally down! No, it's up!

Antivirus software vendors are at an impasse on whether virus threats are up or down.

Trend Micro subscribes to the glass half-full theory, saying there has been a relative lull in the spread of new computer viruses this year compared to 2001.

The vendor claims this lull could reflect an improvement in the market penetration of antivirus applications, better quality products and a heightened awareness of security amongst users.

However, competing antivirus software house Sophos claims there has been an increase in the number of new viruses.

Paul Ducklin, head of global support at Sophos, said its research reveals that, while Klez is still the most prevalent virus out there, many new viruses give cause for concern, including NoClose Trojan, Sircam and Nimda variants.

"I admit [a slowdown theory] somehow feels right, but perhaps the feeling comes from the fact that last year's 'big news' viruses, such as CodeRed and Nimda, burned twice as bright for half as long," Ducklin said.

Regardless of whether there is a lull or not, Chris Poulos, managing director of Trend Micro, warned users not to become complacent.

"They should not let down their guard, or they may find themselves unprepared when the next round of attacks begins," Poulos said.

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