Our Acceptable Use Policy expressly warns against the spreading of viruses, and states what the consequences will be of allowing a machine to remain infected, or continually become re-infected. Every Internet user must be responsible for installing and maintaining up-to-date anti-virus software on his or her machine.
The use of anti-virus software and your email program's built-in filtering will go a long way toward reducing the chances of catching and spreading viruses, worms, “Trojan Horses,” and all the other nasty hacker-tricks. We urge you to take advantage of whatever filtering capabilities your own email software provides, and set up your own filtering based on whatever criteria is noted relating to current and future viruses. This will help you to avoid any infected emails that slip through our system. Use of anti-virus software, properly and continually updated, will go a long way toward keeping your machine clean.Users of Windows platform machines need to also learn to use the systems'“Update” function, as many of our current woes stem from software written to exploit weaknesses in the Windows operating system (consider how many of the latest worms hijack the Outlook Express addressbook).
The following are a few simple suggestions will help you protect yourself. As email use grows, expect virus and worm attacks to grow as well—both in frequency and in sophistication. Filtering at the server-level can only go so far before it impinges on customers' ability to send and receive with any sort of reliability. It is necessary for all of us to arrange for a secondary line of defense on our own individual machines:
- Install anti-virus software and keep it updated — There are many programs available, but you're probably best off with a well-known, well-supported piece of software. There's little saving to be had if your purchase doesn't cover your exposure and you need to spend hours and sometimes considerable money cleaning your system. Symantec and McAffee are two of the best-known, most often referred to companies. They have products for Macs and PCs. PC-cillin from Micro-Trend is another very popular Windows anti-Virus package.
- Never open an attachment you are not expecting, even if you recognize the sender's name — As witnessed by the current proliferation of worms that send to all email addresses on an individual's machine, with that person's return address, just knowing the sender does not guarantee safety. Ask people to tell you what is in an attachment when they send it, and do the same when sending attachments to others.
- Make use of our web email to check mail and delete suspicious mail or unknown attachment prior to downloading to your machine. Some viruses now can infect your machine without being read, just by being previewed in your email program.
- Consider other email programs. MS Outlook is a great program with features that make it easy to use. It does seem to be the target of many of these viruses though. You should decide either to keep it and be cautious, or to look into other programs...and be cautious. Using an alternative email program such as Eudora or Pegasus won't protect you from everything, but will avoid the Outlook security bugs. To keep up-to-date on Microsoft patches, check their website—URLs below.
Doing a search on the web for “virus” or “security” will probably bring up more than you care to know—however, everyone should have some basic awareness of what the risks are, and how to remove infections and protect against new ones. The following sites will provide plenty of information to get you started. Symantec offers a page of removal instructions for many of the latest viruses/worms, as well as tutorials on how to go about cleaning up your machine. If you are not comfortable disinfecting your machine and installing anti-virus software, have a dealer do it for you.
Both Symantec and McAfee are in the business of selling software—nonetheless, they remain the most often used and recommended anti-virus sites. Both offer some free downloads or trial versions, both maintain excellent databases of virus information.
There are a couple of links to “hoax” pages, too, so you can check out rumors and see if they are valid. The best protection is knowledge and self-protection, hopefully these links will provide you with both. Info is there for both Macs and PCs.
- Symantec Security Response Removal Tools: http://securityresponse.symantec.com/avcenter/tools.list.html
- Hoaxes: http://securityresponse.symantec.com/avcenter/hoax.html
- Norton Anti-virus software: http://www.symantec.com