Internet security firm McAfee has just released its 200,000th virus threat definition and predicts that within two years there will be 400,000 separate definitions, as internet attacks spiral.
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The 200,000th definition to protect users from threats has been added to McAfee’s VirusScan engine, which is used to download security updates to customers of its anti-virus products.
If McAfee’s prediction that the number of viruses spread will double in two years, users with ageing machines may struggle to store the amount of virus definitions or “signatures” being generated.
Between 1999 and 2002, McAfee said VirusScan held a constant 50,000 definitions, but since then the number of threats has ballooned thanks to constantly modified worms and viruses.
McAfee said the number of serious and widespread virus outbreaks is currently being contained, thanks to a greater awareness of the security threat and the wider use of security software.
But it says the hacking community is expanding as an increasing number of criminals move in to generate cash from lower profile internet fraud attempts.