Virus protection

Keeping the information your company relies on safe from attack.

What is a computer virus?

Every time you load from a disk in your machine, open an e-mail or download information from the internet, you run the risk of infecting your machine with a computer virus.

A virus is a small program created with the express purpose of infecting computer equipment.

There are two basic types: those that hide inside executable (.EXE) programs and those that hide in the macro language used in programs such as Microsoft Word.

As a rule, you should assume that every program or e-mail attachment could be infected.

Warning: e-mail viruses are now extremely sophisticated. Some look like warnings about viruses currently circulating. Get virus protection — if in doubt, delete the e-mail without opening it. Don't take risks!

Never download a program from a website unless you have virus protection.

Computer viruses range in severity from freezing your computer screen to completely reformatting your hard drive. They can result in lost data, inoperable computers and expensive repair.

Because the symptoms of a virus may not be immediately apparent, you can easily infect other people not just in your own organisation but throughout your contacts list just by sending one e-mail from an infected machine.

Some viruses target your e-mail records, automatically sending an infected e-mail (with your name at the bottom) to every person in your contact list. You could infect all your customers.

What if I'm already infected?

If you think your computer is already infected, it's not too late.

Isolate the machine immediately. Unplug it from the network. Do not copy files off it and certainly do not e-mail from it.

Run your anti-virus software, from a floppy disk if you have one.

When the software finds the virus, you will probably have the choice of disinfecting the system or deleting the infected files. Deleting is always the best choice.

When this is done, run the software again. Make sure it finds nothing this time.

If your computer was on a network, assume that everybody else's computer is infected too. Repeat these instructions for every other computer.

Clearly just removing the virus is not the end of the problem. You caught it from somewhere. And you probably passed it on.

Not only is every computer in your network suspect, and should be cleaned too, but every floppy disk you have used, every Zip disk or backup tape, every CD you wrote — every storage medium which has come into contact with your computer is suspect.

If you or anybody else runs e-mail, you might have infected everybody in your address book. Some viruses send out an e-mail to everybody they find in your address book, infecting them too.

Check your received e-mail list for anything suspect. It might be how you received the virus.

Getting protection

Software exists to search for infected files and to scan all new activity for the presence of viruses. If a virus is found, this software can quarantine the infected files or clean them.

ICG can install the most up-to-date software versions which will check for viruses at frequent intervals — normally every time a program runs or a macro document is opened — to ensure that the machine or server is virus free.

ICG can also provide regular virus pattern updates.

New viruses emerge daily — some viruses are even programmed to mutate into new strains — and it is important to have the most current pattern to ensure the most thorough scan of disks.

Losing data by any method is annoying and can cause disruption to your business. But clearly it is better to lose data through a computer failure than through a virus.

If your anti-virus software could not find a virus, it may be a false alarm. Some things which look like a virus are not necessarily a virus. Always assume the worst, but be aware of this.

If you are in any doubt about any aspect of your computer system, it is best to isolate it, make a note of the symptoms and contact your help desk or maintenance provider. They will diagnose the problem for you either over the telephone or in a site visit.

For expert advice, contact ICG on 0870 871 2606.

Your suspect machine will be checked by a virus expert. Hopefully you will not be infected — but if a virus is found, ICG will quarantine and remove it.

For further information, please call ICG on 0870 871 2602 or email