August will be remembered as one of the worst months on record in terms of computer security after PCs around the world were hit by Blaster, Sobig-F and a number of other worms and viruses.
While admitting the recent hype was certainly good for business, Symantec managing director for Pacific operations, John Donovan, said it had put a lot of strain on the company’s call centre operations.
He said the company rated malicious code on five levels according to degree of impact. He could not recall a level 5 threat but said August had seen Blaster, Welchia and Sobig-F labelled as level 4 attacks. Dumaru was classed as level 3.
This level of malicious code was only normally seen about twice a year, according to Donovan, with previous examples including Code Red and Bugbear.
“Things like Blaster and Sobig drive pent up demand from people who haven’t quite got round to tackling security issues. They are driven into action,” he said. “It is like the people who go out and buy a burglar alarm once their home has been broken into.”
“We have seen an increase in sales recently but there has also been an incredible rise in the amount of calls we have been receiving. When Blaster was making headlines we saw an 1100 per cent rise in the number of calls we received from one day to the next.”
Symantec took on an extra 30 support staff to handle calls during the peak of the attack, more than doubling operator numbers.
Donovan said that waiting times were longer but Symantec had managed to deal with the extra load.
He said the company’s website was receiving 3 million hits a day at the peak of the Blaster attack.
Group product manager for Symantec Asia-Pacific, Leigh Costin, said the first generation Gateway products had been particularly successful in the health, transport state government and manufacturing vertical markets.