Thursday, April 19, 2007

My virus hell (and how to avoid it)

Well I have had more fun weeks at work than this one. Our company web server was hit by a particularly nasty virus.

Again, apologies for my lack of bloggery, but frankly I was becoming a confirmed luddite by the end of yesterday, and decided our new IT strategy was going to involve slate and chalk: the new paperless office.

Lessons learnt

On the plus side it has reminded me how little attention all of us give to security on our PCs until something nasty happens. So here are my common sense steps to reducing your chance of something nasty crawling up your cable.

  • Keep your operating system up to date. For most of us this means Windows (2000, XP, or Vista). Make sure you download all the critical security updates, or even better set your updates to automatically download. This is where I fell down - I had not installed the latest service pack for our server. So bitchslap the web monkey.
  • Get some antivirus software. Mcafee, Symantec, Trend Micro all provide great solutions for a very low cost. If you don't want to shell out at all there are some very good free AV programs Make sure your AV software has some sort of real time protection as well as running a full scan every week or so.
  • Make sure you have a firewall. A firewall is a piece of software that only allows traffic to and from your PC that you have authorised. Windows has a good built in firewall -use it. There are also good (and free) firewall solutions available such as Zone Alarm.
  • Periodically check for spyware. Spyware is the stuff that creates unwanted pop ups, changes your homepage and all other manner of annoying stuff. It is important to check from time to time and remove any from your PC. Try Spybot S&D, Adaware.

At the time of writing our server is still infected, and I am still pulling my hair out - so take a tip from me - prevention is better than cure.

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