Computer viruses don’t just attack individual personal computers. They attack servers, files, web, FTP and e-mail. They also attack routers and other network gear. Unless you’re taking precautions against virus infections you’re asking for trouble and it’s only a matter of time before you get hit with a serious virus problem.
Because Web servers house programs and web pages for internet users, and FTP servers allow for the storage and distribution of files for other systems, these systems are open to attack if users are not careful. E-mail servers send, receive and store e-mails, and e-mail is a common way for viruses to get spread all over the world.
These servers then, while seeming to perform different to the ones you’re used to with a personal computer, actually do many of the same things our computers do and should also be protected in the same way. Administrators should ensure that they have up-to-date and reliable antivirus software installed on the servers and that there are firewalls which can shut down vulnerable access points on the server – especially open data ports.
Because servers and routers provide services to as many or more than 1,000 users at a time they can be and are frequently attacked at the user end. It’s important to keep your system clean and avoid sending viruses to other systems. The administrators of these servers, in turn, can avoid using the servers as their personal computers, which sometimes happens. They can avoid using them for email and for basic tasks like word processing – even the newest network admin should know not to do this.
On their end, users should make sure that they choose a good and secure browser and that they configure it properly. Most users should educate themselves about how to limit the possibility of attack by changing browser settings. Because Internet Explorer has been found to be potentially weak on security, users can either make sure that they bolster their defenses by changing user settings as necessary, or they can choose to use a different browser altogether.
Both users and administrators should avoid booting systems up with CDs in the drive that haven’t been scanned for viruses. It’s pretty common for people to load a CD with music or pictures or documents and hand those CDs off to someone else who then loads the disk into their computer without checking the disc for viruses first. A simple scan can stop major damage happening later on – nobody wants that kinda problem.
Most administrators do a good job of locking down their systems in order to keep them safer, but sometimes security is not at the top of the list. Users who are more used to security issues can offer to help or can remind the administrator of the system of the need for high security so that nobody gets caught out.
Microsoft and other large software providers are doing lots these days to design software and hardware which is better protected before it’s even installed on your computer. One common virus problem is called a ‘buffer overrun’. This causes memory to be used by all programs, which is divided into areas of a certain size which are called ‘buffers’. Hackers then order the program to overflow the buffers which provides the buffers with more access than what the program intended. Quite a number of the more recent security fixes involve addressing this buffer problem and securing them.
It’s important to remember that security doesn’t begin and end with your personal computer and it’s important to consider the needs of the administrator of your system and help them along in the process too.