When choosing an antivirus program, it’s important the program can detect and eliminate all types of viruses, even new ones that have just been created. The protection system must be able to quarantine the virus so it doesn’t spread. Most antivirus software manufacturers request that people send viruses-once quarantined with the antivirus program–to their research center, for purposes of learning more about the virus and recording the virus definition. “When Symantec receives an infected file from someone,” explains Garcia, “we are able to clean the file and return it to the user virus free. We then keep the virus for research purposes.”
Garcia advises that when choosing an antivirus protection program, users look for some important functions. The program should be approved and certified by the International Computer Security Association (ICSA). The ICSA certifies antivirus programs as comprehensive and effective. Additionally, and most importantly, the program must have a “live update” function. “Every day new viruses are created,” says Garcia. “With the live update, you are able to ensure your protection includes the latest shield against new viruses. Software is updated via the Internet, keeping your program completely revised.”
Garcia also notes it’s a good idea to be aware of how viruses can attack, making sure not to execute commands which can trigger a virus. “Never open an e-mail attachment from someone you do not know. That’s not to say viruses only come from strangers, but it is just a safe practice to always delete e-mail if you do not recognize the source.”
The following programs are some of the most recognized on the market.
Symantec manufactures Norton Antivirus 2000, protection against viruses and other malicious codes at all possible virus entry points, including e-mail attachments and Internet downloads, as well as disk drives and networks. Norton Antivirus 2000 not only automatically scans incoming email attachments, but also eliminates viruses in multiple compressed file levels. LiveAdvisor personalized support services are delivered directly via the Internet.
Norton Antivirus 2000 includes support from the Symantec AntiVirus Research Center (SARC). With offices in the United States, Japan, Australia, and the Netherlands, the center’s mission is to provide global responses to computer virus threats; to research, develop, and deliver technologies that eliminate such threats; and to educate the public on safe computing practices. As new computer viruses appear, SARC develops identification and detection for the viruses and provides either a repair or delete operation, keeping users protected against the latest threats. For added protection, SARC’s The Seeker Project, a research and development project focused on virus search, retrieval, and analysis, searches the Internet and retrieves viruses before users of Norton AntiVirus come into contact with them. A two-pronged approach targets all known virus transmission sites where virus writers post their creations and trade tools and ideas with others, and randomly searches the Internet for viruses in general distribution. For additional information, visit Symantec’s Website at www.symantec.com.
Microsoft Security Essentials
The Trojan horse is also a dangerous form of the virus. A recent example of a Trojan horse attack would be the Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks early this year, which shut down leading e-commerce sites, including eBay, Amazon, and Yahoo. According to an FBI investigation into the attack, hackers initiated the assault by implanting DDOS vandals in unprotected computers and then sending a trigger signal to the machines to launch a simultaneous attack using hundreds of third-party systems all over the world.
To execute the attacks, hackers planted many copies of a Trojan virus on multiple machines either by hacking into the machines and planting the Trojans manually or by sending the Trojans to people via e-mail and tricking them into executing the virus. When executed, the Trojan embedded itself in the system and hibernated until the hacker began the attack.
“In light of the recent DDOS vandals that hijacked the computers of innocent users and used them to launch an attack on several high-profile Internet sites, we are offering our Microsoft Security Essentials product free of charge to home users,” says Shimon Gruper, of Microsoft. “We offer preemptive digital asset protection. It snares malicious vandals before they can cause irreparable damage or access confidential information on a user’s machine.”
eSafe features Sandbox II, a new version of Aladdin’s proactive virus and vandal quarantine technology that constantly monitors a computer for hostile activity; ready to intervene the moment a malicious code is identified. eSafe traps and quarantines the vandal, alerting users to the invader before any critical information can be assaulted or system resources hijacked.
eSafe Desktop 2.2 also contains new protection features for the personal firewall module that provides increased protection against Internet vandals such as Trojan horses, back doors, hacker tools, and other viruses. For more information on eSafe, check out Aladdin’s Website at www.aks.com.
McAfee for Windows 2000
Through its consumer Website at www.mcafee.com, McAfee offers PC security and management within several areas for all Windows 2000 applications. The McAfee Clinic is a suite of hosted application services providing consumers with critical PC security and virus protection. Programs include VirusScan, First Aid, and VirusScan Online among others. The McAfee Antivirus Center is a comprehensive virus information center that includes viruses’ characteristics, updates of VirusScan, and a virus calendar.
VirusScan Online provides a Web-based online antivirus service that provides protection without the installation and administrative overhead. An online antivirus scanning service allows users to scan their PC or server over the Internet in real-time using a Web browser. The scan service allows users to scan systems for viruses and clean or delete detected infected files. The ActiveShield, a component of VirusScan Online, is a downloadable, PC-resident service that provides continuous, real-time antivirus protection at the system level, automatically updating itself whenever the user logs onto the Internet. A rescue disk is available for users to create an emergency reboot disk that allows them to restart their computer if the system becomes infected with a virus and cannot boot up in a normal sequence.
Additionally, the McAfee PC Checkup Center, an online resource, provides consumers with information and services to assist them in optimizing their PCs. The PC Checkup Center links consumers to a hosted application service offered through the McAfee Clinic and includes Clean Hard Drive and Software, Update Finder.
Clearly, it’s not just a luxury to have an antivirus protection program–it’s a necessity. No longer can computer users be without state-of-the-art protection against all forms of computer viruses. It’s an insurance policy that Garcia says, “You’ll be glad when you need it and have it, but don’t get caught without it or you’ll regret it.”
About 64 percent of companies were hit by at least one virus in the past 12 months, up from 53 percent the year before. That makes viruses the single-biggest computer and network security concern to the 2,700 executives, security professionals, and technology managers in 49 countries who responded to the Global Information Security Survey conducted by Information Week and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. In the United States, viruses stung 69 percent of companies.
The Global Information Security Survey also reports the number of companies hit by Trojan horses jumped to eight percent, up from three percent.