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Virus Utilities
- Virus Alert
- Know Your Enemy
- The Symptoms
- The Cure
- Anatomy of a MacroVirus
- Tips for a Virus-Free PC

- Safety on the Net



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Virus Utilities

Virus Alert

The Cure

There are a lot of effective ways to find and eliminate viruses, but prevention should be the keystone of any antivirus strategy. If you back up your critical data files and conscientiously use a good virus-detection package, you should be well protected.

Some other steps to prevent virus infection or to successfully recover from an attack are:

  • Install a real-time antivirus program on every PC in your organization. If you can't do this, you should at least set up a floppy-scanning workstation, where all floppy disks brought from home, received from business associates and so forth can be scanned.
  • If you use e-mail, make sure your antivirus software checks sent and received messages.
  • In addition to data files, you should back up critical system files (workstation and network) daily.
  • Create floppy boot disks for each PC; write protect them and store them in a safe place.
  • If your PC offers options for setting the system startup drive, set it to bypass the A: drive (floppy drive) and boot directly from the C: drive.
Choosing a Workstation Antivirus Program

Good workstation antivirus programs now include real-time sensing to monitor each new file as it is copied to or created on your hard disk. This feature checks the spread of viruses through e-mail attachments or files shared over a network. A good workstation antivirus package should also include real-time shields against macro infections and boot-sector viruses and, at shutdown, it should check any diskette that may have been left in the A: drive.

Other things to keep in mind when choosing an antivirus package are:

  • In addition to scanning byte patterns on your hard disk, the antivirus program should track suspicious program behavior, such as attempts to change boot records and extraneous read/write operations. Heuristic scanning helps counter stealth and polymorphic viruses.
  • The antivirus utility should be able to clean most infected files. Avoid antivirus packages that can only delete infected files.
  • A scheduler makes it easy to automate antivirus scanning.
  • The documentation that comes with an antivirus program (either in help file or printed format) should identify virus types and describe their symptoms.
  • Because the number of viruses changes daily, make sure the program you buy is backed by one year of technical support and free virus pattern updates.
Other features to look for include: a facility for creating emergency recovery boot floppies, selective scanning of network drives and automatic updating via the Internet.

Choosing an Antivirus Program for a Network

Because your network can convey a crippling virus just as easily as it does your company's information, a solid network antivirus program is absolutely essential. All the key vendors of workstation antivirus programs, including Symantec, McAfee and Trend Micro Devices, also have versions designed for Windows NT and Novell NetWare servers.

Good network antivirus utilities will have some features that may not be in their workstation equivalents:

  • Network antivirus packages should monitor all shared resources on the network and issue warnings when network clients introduce infections.
  • Antivirus software for networks should offer multiple, configurable virus disposition options, allowing for immediate file disinfection, file deletion or quarantine of contaminated files to a specified directory.
  • When a serious infection occurs, a network antivirus program should notify users and initiate a server shutdown. The system administrator should be able to deal with infected files remotely.
  • The real-time sensor should scan and protect newly mounted drives and directory resources that dynamically change their assignments and drive letters.
A bonus in a server-based antivirus utility is the ability to scan and disinfect client drives.

Don't Panic--Be Prepared

Ross Greenberg, a pioneer in the antivirus software industry, often says he'd be far less successful than he is today if everyone took precautions--like backing up data--and knew what steps to take when a virus hit.

Information is a company's greatest asset. Preparation, vigilance and effective virus-fighting tools can help protect that information, avoid disaster and maybe keep you in business.

Anatomy of a MacroVirus

Copyright © 1997 CMP Media Inc.