VISUAL NEWSLETTER – MAR 2002           

 


DEALING WITH VIRUSES

 

As more and more companies implement Internet and E-mail, virus attacks have once again increased in frequency. In the past most viruses were introduced to companies by employees who brought work home on diskettes. Today the most common forms of viruses travel via E-mail attachments which when opened infect the user’s computer.

 

These viruses have different modes of operation and varying degrees of hostile behaviour, but they usually exhibit one common symptom. They access your address book and send the virus to everyone that you have an E-mail address for. This in turn infects the computers of your customers and personal contacts and they may point to you as the source. This type of virus is most commonly referred to as an “Internet Worm”

 

Most good Anti-Virus Programs can deal with the majority of Viruses but you have to keep them up to date. Name brand computers like Dell & Hewlett Packard often come with Norton Anti-Virus installed. Unfortunately it usually only comes with a ninety day license. Up to that point in time you can download Anti-Virus updates free of charge. After that time, an annual subscription fee is required to keep your Anti-Virus up to date.

 

As I have stated time and time again, the best protection from Virus attacks is a good backup strategy. Most programs can be reloaded fairly easily, but data files are hard to replace. Store important files on the server, unless you have a local backup.

 

Some common sense rules to dealing with

E-mail are worth adopting. If you receive an E-mail from someone unknown to you or your company, you may be well advised to delete it. Even attachments from friends with video jokes attached may be infected so proceed with caution before opening them.

 

ANTI-VIRUS STRATEGIES

 

As noted on the previous page, Anti-Virus software needs to be kept up to date. This is necessary because the same people who  created the 50,000 plus computer viruses thus far are always trying to create new ones or modify old ones to sneak them past your defences. As new ones are identified, the Anti-Virus companies add them to their Virus Definition Tables to help your program identify them before they can make trouble.

 

 For this reason, all computers on the network ideally should have the latest version of your Anti-Virus of choice and this should be kept up to date by downloading Anti-Virus updates at least once a week to avoid a major outbreak. Downloading these Anti-Virus updates takes about five minutes or less if you have a high speed connection.

 

Once a virus attacks, it can take many hours and hundreds of dollars to eradicate the virus and repair the potential damage that it can cause. Even so, it is surprising how many people neglect the simple procedure of updating their Anti-Virus.

 

To get around this problem the Anti-Virus companies have developed Corporate Versions that have a master computer which keeps its copies up to date. This can even be done automatically after hours if you wish. The master copy in turn keeps the other copies of the software up to date, automatically distributing Anti-Virus updates to the other computers as soon as they start up on the network each day.

 

Norton’s Anti-Virus “Corporate Edition” is one of the programs that provide this feature.

It is best to set up the master program on the computer of one of your more technical employees so that its updates can be monitored. After one year you will need to subscribe to an annual update program.