Beating Anthrax and other malware

Here are some tips for keeping your system safe from malware.



You're probably aware of the new computer virus preying on the Anthrax scare. Basically, the virus, technically a worm because it is self-propagating, spreads primarily through e-mail systems. However, experts at @stake, an independent computer consultancy, believe that the deadly-named virus is little more than the digital equivalent of the common cold.

The e-mail has the subject line "Anthrax Info" and contains an attachment claiming to show the side effects of Anthrax. Once the attachment is opened, the worm spreads itself to everyone listed in the e-mail address book.

@stake advises that a few simple steps that should cure the problem.

PC users should:
1) Use discretion. Don't open e-mails from unknown senders or senders you are not expecting a message from.
2) Don't panic. Sending spam e-mails alerting fellow employees or friends is not the best use of the system and will heighten uncertainty.

IT directors should take three steps to protect their company in the short-term:
1) Activate filtering on mail gateways to stop rogue attachments from entering the company e-mail system.
2) Ensure current security patches are in place for Outlook Express/Outlook, which are available on the Microsoft Web site.
3) Deploy the latest antivirus update when available from your antivirus vendor.

In addition, companies should draw up suitable policies and procedures for these situations, so that appropriate actions can be taken swiftly in the future.


This was first published in October 2001

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