Dell had to close one of its factories for two days after it was struck by the Funlove virus. The company's Limerick factory halted PC production at the end of last week after the discovery that production systems had been infected.
Funlove, which attacks Windows NT security files, is relatively easy to detect, said experts. But once a system is infected, it is extremely difficult to cure because of its ability to hide itself from anti-virus scanners and to re-infect the system.
A spokeswoman for Dell UK said that around 12,000 units - most of which were PCs - had been potentially affected by the infection.
"Because we build to order, we were able to identify which machines were affected. Most of these machines were in transit," she said. "Five hundred had actually reached customers, but these were recalled and checked and scanned, and we haven't found any infections."She said she was unable to say exactly how much money the infection had caused the firm. "We have worked around the clock to catch up with production."She added that Dell did not have any idea how its systems had become infected with the virus. Dell uses anti-virus software from Symantec, she said.Graham Cluely, senior technology consultant at UK-based anti-virus company Sophos, said: "The incident was unfortunate. This really underlines that it's not always sufficient for companies to rely solely on anti-virus software. There are new viruses coming out of the wild all the time."He added: "It's important to keep anti-virus software up to date, but companies should also practise 'safe hex' and employ sensible measures to reduce their likelihood of virus infection."
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