Though computer viruses and worms, like those circulating the globe in the past weeks, continue to get more threatening, German companies are investing less money in software protection, according to a study released Monday. Due to the miserable economic climate, budget extras like virus protection software are the first things to be slashed, leaving firms vulnerable to increasingly smarter viruses, according to the IT Security Study 2003 by the magazine Informationweek. More than six out of ten companies polled in Germany said they plan to freeze or decrease their IT security budget in the coming year. The 68 percent figure was an increase of 10 percent from the year before. The study polled more than 2,000 IT managers and security experts in 39 different countries.