Telenor reduces Internet virus risk

Press release
12 minute read
Statistics compiled by Telenor show that the amount of both spam and virus increased substantially in 2004. As Norway's largest Internet provider in both the consumer and business markets, Telenor has taken steps that are likely to reduce the scope of the virus problem in 2005.

Telenor currently has approximately 950.000 active e-mail subscribers on both its Online ADSL and Frisurf platforms, and in the business market. As the largest player in the market, Telenor also offers a number of security services - ranging from around the clock monitoring of attempts at data hacking, to dynamic filters that kill spam and virus. Online ADSL customers also have access to Norton Anti-virus software, which can be downloaded and installed on customers' PCs.

Statistics from Telenor reveal that the amount of infected e-mails increased dramatically in 2004 This applies for both e-mail viruses and network viruses. There are now more than 100,000 known viruses in the world.

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. In spite of all the virus attacks, Telenor's distribution of e-mail was never brought to a halt. 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. For those Telenor customers who have installed their own spam filter, almost 70 per cent of all e-mails were blocked as unwanted spam. The trend that emerged in 2003, that spam is distributed trough virus-infected home PCs, continued with renewed strength in 2004. Telenor's spam and virus filters 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, and if we look at the number of customers who have installed virus and spam filters this counted for between 40 and 50 per cent.

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.

The major viruses (ranked according to the extent of their distribution) in 2004 were:

In addition to the central virus filter for outgoing e-mails, Telenor also introduced "virus radar" in 2004, as part of Telenor's central Virus Scan service. This radar will continuously analyse the four million e-mail messages that each day pass through Telenor's virus scan servers. At the least suspicion of a virus, e-mails will be quarantined for further analysis, pending further efficient virus signature. This service has substantially increased the security in the early outbreak-phase of a new virus.

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 (e.g. from Telenor) 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

For more information on Telenor's security services and relevant statistics please visit: .

For more information, please contact:

Head of information Arild S. Johannessen, Telenor Division Business Market: +47 481 91 921

Head of information Atle Lessum, Telenor Division Consumer Market: +47 415 05 645