Virus Here, Virus There… Virus, Virus Everywhere

computer virus I got a phone call this morning from a client.  Seems someone in his organization clicked on a link in an email and got immediately whacked with a virus that wiped out his Windows desktop icons and all the program entries off the Start button.  The offending email was in his personal account on one of the free webmail services (Yahoo in this case) and therefore had not been scanned by our corporate mail scanner.  Now his hard drive is under attack, his data is at risk and his time and productivity are being wasted. (and the boss is not happy)

There are lots of ways to pick up a virus or trojan or to be phished.  It can happen in an email message or on Facebook or in any number of other ways.  Earlier this month I added a blog post about a specific email that was circulating. I highlighted the specific things that were wrong with that email and some thoughts about how to spot them.  Here are a few more thoughts on the topic.

First, have a good, reliable anti-virus agent running on your system.  And make sure the subscription is current and definition files are up to date. There are plenty of a/v programs out there, some are even free (AVG Free and Avast are both good choices for personal use).  Most anti-virus software includes on-demand and scheduled anti-virus scans. And many apps now include real-time anti-virus protection and further spyware protection.   You can find information about anti-virus software, both free and paid, at CNET.com.

Second, SLOW DOWN! Protect yourself by paying attention. Take a few moments and really read the email before you open an attachment or click a link. Look at the sender's address, look at the link (without clicking on it).  Did you give your email address to the person or organization who's sending this email?  Consider the plausibility factor.  Would the IRS really be sending you an email?  Why would the postal service be telling you about a failed delivery if you didn't mail a package? Do you even KNOW anyone who lives in Nigeria?

Just like not taking candy from strangers and not getting into a car with someone you don't know, don't EVER EVER EVER click on a link if you're not 100% sure of where it came from.  EVER.  Seriously.  EVER. No joke is that funny or link so enlightening that you'll be worse for ignoring it. So don't just ignore it... delete it.

Lastly, be vigilant.  Even good anti-virus apps are no match for brand new (Day Zero/Zero Day) exploits. Just because your anti-virus software didn't flag the email or shoot up a warning when you clicked it, doesn't mean it's not carrying a deadly payload, nor does it absolve you of responsibility.  You have to look before you link.  When you hover the mouse over a link it will preview the destination of the link for you in the lower left hand corner of the browser window.  If the destination shown in the lower left hard corner of your browser window doesn't match the link in the email DON'T CLICK IT.

The good news here is that we can fix problems and often prevent them from happening in the first place with proper maintenance of desk/laptops, servers and networks.  To find out how we can help inoculate your systems from viruses and keep your networks running smoothly call us at 203-648-9906 option 2.

-Jenn 11/29/2011


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