The research was commissioned to coincide with the launch of a virus scanning service by broadband network provider, BT Ignite.
The report found that as many as 47% of the business executives questioned believed that existing viruses did little or no damage. One-third of respondents said that they only updated anti-virus software once a month, while more than a half claimed they had no policy in place to deal with the sending and opening of e-mails.
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BT Ignite's service has been licensed from the anti-virus vendor MessageLabs, which has seen the number of virus incidents rise from one in 1,500 e-mails a year ago to one in 400 today.