|In a research report released by McAfee Security, Internet viruses are overwhelming Europe's small business sector with 22 percent of these companies closing down operations to recover from recent attacks. The security vendor estimates that more than 14 million businesses with less than 20 employees have been affected in varying scale.|
The study findings nearly match a recent survey by the UK's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, which estimated that in 2003 alone, cyber crime cost British, companies hundreds of millions of pounds.
With thousands of online casinos operating across Europe, the company estimates that each Internet virus attack costs operators more than US$6,090 in lost output and clean-up, with the annual cost of all cyber crime at more than US$20 billion for western Europe.
The worst hit countries were France and Italy where 50 percent and 30 percent of small businesses respectively were brought to a standstill by outbreaks, while 20 percent of the Spanish small businesses in the survey reported files were irretrievably lost or damaged by digital security breaches.
‘It looks to be getting worse. This year, we've seen more virus outbreak alerts in the first quarter than in all of 2003,’ says Jack Clark, technology consultant for McAfee.
With cyber fraudsters send dubious e-mails or create spoof online casinos and hoping to entice users to hand over banking details or passwords; blasting online gambling sites with crippling data barrages, known as a distributed denial-of-service attacks and threatening to take the website out of service unless money is paid, online casinos are battling more than ever to maintain operations and fight competitors.
Despite the virus barrage growing in intensity, a majority of small European businesses are not updating their anti-virus software. In UK for instance, more than 60 percent of businesses are vulnerable to attack says McAfee.
‘Overall, the sector is suffering from a lack of awareness,’ warns Clark.