Between two and five new viruses are discovered every day, according to John Thompson, newly appointed chief executive officer at anti-virus company Symantec.
Speaking exclusively to VNU Newswire, Thompson, who previously spent 28 years at IBM, said that of the two to five new viruses discovered every day, most are not in the wild so don't present a great threat to users.
"But this just shows the level of malicious activity out there," he said.
Thompson also warned that the number of organisations that get hit by hackers or virus writers is far worse than is currently documented.
"The situation is worse than reported - by an order of magnitude," he said.
"Companies should have drills - like schools have fire drills. They should practice what they would do if they got hacked."
Thompson said that Symantec anti virus labs currently have examples of four viruses which trigger on the first of January Year 2000 - which some anti-virus vendors are dubbing "Year 2000 viruses".
Symantec and rival Network Associates have recently been under fire from UK anti virus company Sophos which accused them of "virus scaremongering" over the risk posed by the millennium.
Thompson commented: "It would be inconceivable that my company would create a virus scare to boost business," he said.
However, Symantec chief researcher Carey Nachenberg has previously warned there might be up to 200,000 new viruses specially written for the millennium.
Thompson also told Newswire that he plans to spin off Symantec's Internet tools business as a free-standing entity.
"It doesn't relate to our Internet security business," he said. "If we do this, we can be more focused."
He added that he was realigning the company to focus more on the corporate market.
"One of my early observations of the company was that there was no centering point. We are realigning our resources to focus on the corporate on one side and the consumer on the other, as opposed to a product oriented business model," he added.
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