Thank God, it's a worm

Ironically, a worm helps improve the working condition of this author's computer. Get this user's perspective on how security is bringing IT and the user together.

My work computer, among a dozen others, somehow got infected with the Nachi worm last week. This is an unprecedented occurrence at my company (SS Titanic Technologies), because they use umpteen firewalls, have multiple filters on e-mail and antivirus running on every machine. I was thrilled: I write about this stuff all the time, but it never happens to me. It's like being a sportswriter who doesn't go to the games.

Anyway, the IT folks physically disconnected everybody from the network, ran McAfee on every machine, upgraded us to the latest Microsoft Windows service pack and hotfix, and connected us all again. The network was back up, everything ran smoothly, and no more worm problems.

But that's not the point. The point is that this is the first time in three years that anyone has even looked at my machine, never mind done an OS upgrade. I don't know what exactly was in the service packs -- or the hotfix, for that matter -- but my machine's running better than before. None of those weird greenouts where Task Manager pegs the meter, signaling that it's time for me to go take a walk while the thing figures out how to add in binary again.

It isn't that IT doesn't like me or doesn't care about the company machines. It's just that my company, like many others, simply doesn't have the staff, budget, time or inclination to upgrade or diagnose the transient little peculiarities that might help my machine run better. They're too busy putting out fires. But, clearly, if a nasty bug hits, then they do have to give attention to individual machines.

Care of individual machines is a luxury, but security is a necessity and a motivator. Strangely, in today's office, it's security that drives IT to the user. I wonder if security providers -- either of products or of services -- realize this. Anyway, I can't wait for the next worm or virus to hit: I have this flaky Web problem I'd like to get sorted out.

Edmund X. DeJesus is a freelance technical writer in Norwood, Mass.


This was first published in November 2003

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