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BT Openworld issue a five point to deal with virus attacks for SMEs
Thursday 11 September 2003 18:45:00 by Andrew Ferguson

BT Openworld has issued a short five point plan of action for SMEs to help them avoid problems with virus attacks. This may seem a bit late so long after the start of the current Blaster attacks, but given the number of machines that were easily compromised in the last few weeks it appears many are not taking even the simplest steps.

Nick Truman, Head of Security at BT Openworld outlines a short five point plan, which at least gives you areas to start looking at, and perhaps highlights areas that people may have overlooked.

  1. Be aware - and make sure your team is
    Ensure all staff are aware of security threats, covering:
    • P2P (peer-to-peer) use in the office, such as MP3 downloads. A significant amount of the downloadable data is likely to contain Trojan horses - malicious code that you download without knowing it, and that infects your computer (and possibly those of others) once it's installed.
    • Personal use of corporate email - it's not just wasting corporate time, it's exposing the business to unnecessary risk.
    • Using the internet for activities not suitable for an office environment. Some adult sites, for instance, use malicious code to alter the PC of the 'viewer' to force premium rate diallers, hijack default homepages and install Trojan horses which can compromise a corporate network and expose it and its contents to the world.
  2. Enforce where necessary
    Ensure that security compliance is contractually binding. This is especially relevant in environments where staff take laptops home, or use them for personal business. It sounds pedantic, but if it's not in their contract, you probably aren't protected.
  3. Patch, patch and patch again
    Make sure all your systems are patched to the latest level as recommended by operating system vendors, and don't rest until... well, ever. New exploits are discovered all the time, and if you know about them, there's every chance that a hundred hackers also do. If someone got a key cut that fitted the lock on your front door, you wouldn't wait till the following week to get it fixed, would you...? Act now!
  4. Have guard dogs at the gate, and at the door
    Ensure that all desktop and laptop computers are equipped with - at the very least - virus protection software. Ideally, install firewall software as well. And, as goes with all of these simple steps, make sure you keep them up to date. Viruses mutate like teenage fashions - what was 'safe' one week will most likely not be the next.
  5. The golden rule
    This is the message that lies behind all these tips - put simply, don't ever let up. New threats shoot up like daffodils in springtime, and each and every mutation can be a lot less pleasant. Stay alert - but don't just rely on the press to let you know when something big is on the horizon. It's far more likely they'll cover a security risk after it has felled a corporate giant - and by then, it could be too late for you.

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