Stupid Is As Stupid Does
Just as I was about to write about something with a
little more charismatic value than the Web, I caught wind of the latest virus invasion
and felt motivated to send in the troops. Once again the world of business has been
rocked by yet another replicating worm that comes with e-mail as an attachment. This
time the culprit has been named the "I Love You" worm.
Now, I thought I had provided sufficient guidance
and admonishment in February of 1999 to forever stave off the damage and frustration
caused by computer viruses and worms delivered via e-mail. At that time I was the
victim of the cruel and lethal Happy 99 worm. It was my first experience with such
a tyrant and one that I'll never forget. Until they find a new way to inject our
systems with these malicious characters, I know I'll be fairly safe.
So I'll just take a few words here to offer some
simple advice about how to avoid these nuisances, as it seems that once again millions
have opened this worm and sent it ravaging into their systems. First however, who
opens such e-mail attachments? With all the TV and Internet coverage given to the
Melissa bug last year, why would people continue to participate? There are a few
reasons I can think of specifically:
- None of these people have ever had reason to suspect an e-mail containing malicious
code. They simply have never been trained or had the unfortunate and costly experience
that I went through.
- These people are Newbies or work for firms that have done zilch about protecting
their computer systems and training their employees.
- These people never had the chance to read my newsletter of last year (as mentioned
above) and consequently, compounded by the fact that their bosses were too frugal to
fund a little security software, they devastated entire networks with one simple mouse
click. I guess I need to sharpen up and get more subscribers.
- Stupid is as stupid does let us not be remembered for our stupidity.
Now the way I see it avoiding these nasty bugs is
really fairly simple. It starts with doing a little research. This is called power
through knowledge. Here's a link to an article at
ZDNet/PC Week Magazine. This is a starting point only; I highly
recommend you do a little more research by searching the Net. Next is the application
of a little common sense in words, listen up!! This is called "vision".
First and foremost: Never, I say NEVER, open
any file that comes attached to an e-mail unless you have taken the precautions below.
This act alone will save millions a year in the havoc caused by these programs.
Those that write them knowing their fun is being controlled, might just be motivated
to use their skills to do good things.
Always, I say ALWAYS, make proper arrangements
with the sender if you need to receive a file attachment via e-mail. Within my company
we have a policy to never open e-mail on the server or to open e-mail attachments that
do not come with the following safe guards in place:
- There has been a secure transmittal between the intended recipient and the sender
in which a file name and password have been selected. In other words, the file is
zipped and is password protected and has a filename agreed to via the original e-mail.
- Maximum file size to accept via e-mail is 50K.
- Larger files are zipped and stored on-line using a secure service.
- Scan the file for viruses regardless of all the above security measures.
Following this procedure will keep you out of
trouble as far as e-mail attachments are concerned. DO NOT believe for a even
a second that scanning an attached file for viruses will prevent any problems. Why?
First comes the malicious code and then comes the patch. In other words you could have
scanned the "I Love You" VBS and received no warning. So don't open the darn things.
Naturally there are other ways to get your system
infected; downloads from the Web, disks, macros, etc. With these we can be a little more
discerning since we usually trust the source. So the best thing to do is to trust none.
Always scan for viruses before installing any software or opening a file containing
As final precaution I advise that you should be very
careful about following links to Websites that may have come to you via e-mail
that appears to come from spammers. Naturally we know that most
spammers would not have this sort of sophistication, so we know it must be coming from
the hackers. It only makes sense to not trust any source that uses fake headers and
page for more on the latter. More angst folks...well, as they say...an ounce of
Well, my 1000 words are probably exceeded once again,
so best I shut up and move on. One of these days I'll write something that once and
for all proves that there is more attached to my karma than just electrons.
Who is this guy anyway?
Wally Gross is CEO of The
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