Keeping a home computer safe from viruses is as easy as going to a retail store or website and purchasing the latest virus utility. Most of you are probably familiar with McAfee VirusScan and Norton Antivirus, which are good choices for that reason. However, there are other virus detection programs like Kaspersky Anti-Virus (www.kaspersky.com) and Computer Associates InoculateIT (www.InoculateIT.com), which scored higher in finding and cleaning In The Wild (ITW) viruses. Detection program test results are available for free at www.av-test.org. Don’t forget that having one of these programs won’t make you bulletproof. Once you choose your product, make sure you check back with the manufacturer’s website weekly to download the most current virus definition files that will allow your virus checker to identify the latest threats.
Being responsible for a web server or an in-house network is slightly more complicated. You can buy the network versions of the virus scan software and install it on every machine in your office, but then you’ve got to worry about keeping all of those machines up to date yourself or training your staff to manage the software updates. You can also install a firewall computer that scans all incoming mail messages and other data for infected files before routing that traffic to the network. This tends to create bottlenecks within your network, and what happens if your firewall fails? Your best bet to keep the office free of viruses is to inform your staff.
Make sure they: 1) are aware of potential viruses and know what the impact could be if they were to get infected; 2) know how to check their current virus scan software version and update it if necessary; 3) DO NOT open any attachments from people they do not know or attachments with a suspicious subject line; and 4) alert the IT department of any suspicious messages they have received.
Sometimes vulnerabilities in operating systems or email programs themselves leave computers susceptible to infection. Microsoft is generally pretty good about posting fixes for known issues once they have been discovered. Their “Critical Update Notification” wizard automatically updates software to secure these loopholes. Of course, I don’t know of any other software company that has so many loopholes that it needs such a mechanism, but that’s another story.