COMPUTER BUSINESS REVIEW

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Issue Date: June 2001 (es)

The first round-the-clock monitoring contract for UPS batteries

1 June 2001

As you would expect me to say <smile> - use decent anti-virus software and keep it up to date. There are over 50 000 viruses in existence and the experts at Sophos Anti-Virus are seeing more than 600 new viruses every month - so it is essential you keep your anti- virus software up to date.
However, there are things IT managers can do as well as using anti- virus software to reduce their chances of infection.
* Stop using DOCs. Instead use pure Rich Text Format for your Word documents, because that does not support the macro language.
There is a caveat to this advice. Some macro viruses intercept File SaveAs RTF and save a file with a .RTF extension which actually contains a DOC format file! So it needs to be true Rich Text Format. Tell the people that you deal with that you would rather they sent you RTF or CSV files rather than DOC or XLS.
* Change your CMOS boot-up sequence so that rather than booting from drive A: if you leave a floppy in your machine, you boot by default from drive C: instead. This should stop all pure boot sector viruses (like Form, CMOS4, AntiCMOS, Monkey, etc) from infecting you. If you do occasionally need to boot from a floppy disk the CMOS can be quickly switched back.
* Do not run/open unsolicited executables/documents/spreadsheets/etc. Adopt a paranoid attitude, if you do not know something to be virus-free assume it is not virus-free.
Have a strict policy in your organisation that downloading executables and documents from the net is not acceptable, and that anything that runs in your organisation has to be virus-checked and approved first. Indeed, your staff should ask themselves "Do I really need that screensaver or joke program to do my work?". If they do not actually need it, do not let them have it!
* You might benefit from a hoax policy you could deploy amongst your staff. Consider a hoax policy like this: "You shall not forward any virus warnings of any kind to anyone other than <insert name of the department or staff member who looks after anti-virus issues>. It does not matter if the virus warnings have come from an anti-virus vendor or been confirmed by any large computer company or your best friend. All virus warnings should be sent to <insert name>, and <insert name> alone. It is <insert name>'s job to send round all virus warnings, and a virus warning which comes from any other source should be ignored."
* If you do not need Windows Scripting Host, turn it off. Enter Start/Settings/Control Panel. Open Add/Remove Programs. Choose the Windows Setup tab. Double-click on 'Accessories' and make sure Windows Scripting Host is deselected (no checkmark).
* If you use floppy disks, write-protect them before inserting them into other users' computers.
* Keep an eye on Microsoft's security bulletins at http://www.microsoft.com/security/</a>. These can warn of new security loopholes and issues with Microsoft's software.
* Subscribe to an e-mail alert service that warns you about new, in-

the-wild, viruses such as the one at

http://www.sophos.com/virusinfo/notifications</a>
* Make regular back-ups of your important data, and check that the

back-ups were successful.
Graham Cluley
Sophos Anti-Virus
Tel: (0944) 1235 544 114
Fax: (0944) 1235 544 144


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