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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Viruses Dangerous but PC Users Worse

NEW YORK -- Despite the havoc the Explore.exe and Melissa viruses have wreaked on businesses over the last few months, a new survey shows that there is a far bigger threat to data security lurking in the world: You.

Broadcasters Network International, a market research company, said that the biggest threat to data security was, by far, computer users accidentally deleting files. Call it the whoops factor.

A survey of 300 system managers released last week said accidental deletions cause 30 times the data loss that viruses do.

The survey said, much of the problem could be attributed to ignorance: Many users are ill-informed about just how easy it is to inadvertently delete a file or a set of files on a server.

Another factor is that while nearly every computer has anti-virus software, few computers have protection to recover deleted files. Losing data between backups is a huge fear among 54 percent of system managers surveyed.

Daily backup, the most common safeguard against data loss, often fails entirely, leaving system managers without the protection they thought they had.

A quarter of respondents said that backup device failure, along with human error, makes backing up unreliable. Many times individual computers are left out of backup schedules altogether.

If the survey's dire revelations are true, corporations could be losing more money in lost data than they previously thought, having turned most of the attention to the threat of viruses.

While estimates vary, some experts believe viruses cause more than $500 million annually. (Melissa, which infected 19 percent of the nation's large corporations, was responsible for nearly $300 million in data loss, according to the computer security company That means accidental deletions could be causing U.S. corporations $15 billion.