Close Up Report on Computer Viruses

Close Up Report on Computer Viruses

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The TVNZ Close Up programme ran a piece last week on computer viruses which probably succeeded in scaring most viewers while not offering any solutions or even places to look for help.

Computer virus
How safe is your computer? We all know about fire walls, and anti-virus software. But cyber-criminals are constantly getting smarter, and nastier, they can turn your computer against you if you let your guard down for just a second. To prove this NetSafe, and IBM ran an experiment. They set up four people on poorly protected computers and over two hours monitored the cyber attacks. The guinea pigs did normal things, checked e-mails, visited websites, and downloaded software. And you'll be amazed how quickly they were targeted and in some cases taken down.

Close Up: Computer Virus (4:56)

Now, it's a great thing to illustrate to people that they should be taking steps to protect their computer and themselves online, but putting a bunch of un-patched machines on the web and being amazed at the ensuing viral activity is like leaving the door open when diving in a shark cage - you shouldn't be surprised when you get bitten.

The issue, as the report points out, is "poorly protected computers" and we at Microsoft have a duty to ensure that the public knows how to protect themselves against these kinds of threats, and that they can do it without a huge investment through the free utilities that we and others offer.

There are a few simple steps outlined on security section of the NetSafe website and of course the Microsoft home security site, but it comes down to some basic things:

  1. Keep your firewall turned on
  2. Keep your operating system up to date
  3. Use updated antivirus software
  4. Use updated antispyware technology

To this list I'd add two other basic hygiene items:

  1. If you're running IE6 upgrade to IE7
  2. If you're running Windows XP make sure you've installed Service Pack 3
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