Yes You Can Catch One From a Friend
by Bill McFarland
There are many
things in the computer field that are particularly frustrating.
At this time, viruses are at the top of my list. If you read any
newspaper, or listen to any national news on radio or TV on or soon
after Friday, April 2, you should have heard of "Melissa".
don't think anyone in Extension got this one, but there was some
scrambling on campus, and you may have noticed a change in the first
50 mailbox entries in the Outlook global address book. Unfortunately
viruses are plentiful, and getting easier to create. This is easily
seen when you consider the intelligence of the guy who did the Melissa
virus in such a way that the FBI could track it down and caught
him in a week.
This virus was created within a Word document and transmitted as
an attached E-mail file. This is typically the way viruses are being
created and spread now. They are called macro viruses, not because
of their size, but because they are created within a Word macro,
or an Excel macro. They are known as viruses because once a machine
gets infected, the virus knows how to multiply and spread. Therefore,
if your machine gets infected you could be spreading the virus and
not know it.
For instance, a regional director called me recently and said his
computer was reporting a virus in a Word file that he had received
from a colleague on campus by E-mail. When he tracked that down,
the campus person had received the file from a person in the state
government. I didn't care to go any further than that. This is the
problem that we are facing. In our connected world today, you are
going to get computer viruses. They can even come to you from a
What can you do? This is what anti-virus software is for.
Detecting and stopping the spread of viruses. But it doesn't work
very well if you aren't using it. And old anti-virus software may
not be able to catch new viruses. The University has a site license
with one of the leading anti-virus companies, Network Associates-they
were interviewed in the national news with the story about Melissa.
We make the most current version available to you on the Share drive.
You will find it at
S:\MUCampus\ETCS\Anti-Virus\VirusScan. If you don't have
an S: drive, you can get to this share server through Netscape or
Internet Explorer. Enter the URL of
http://UOEshare.ext.missouri.edu/share. Then click through the
same structure as above. Start with downloading the Instructions.doc.
The latest software is McAfee Virus Scan. This replaces Dr. Soloman's
Anti-Virus software. Network Associates has merged these two anti-virus
packages. The files are getting large (10 MB), and it will take
some time to download and install this software. Then our instructions
tell you how to get the latest virus update, a process which delivers
the update files over the Internet to your computer. Thank goodness
all county offices are connected now. Plan about one hour to get
your machine setup for this latest anti-virus protection. Even if
you just installed Dr. Solomon's last month, you need to do this
A final note about being virus sensitive. Since most of the recent
virus problems have come inside Word as a macro virus, you should
be very suspicious if an attached Word file is shown to have a macro
in it. Your Word should be configured so that it warns you that
a macro is present in a document as it is opening it. To insure
you have this on, go to Tools/Options/General tab, and see that
there is a check in the box beside Macro virus projection.
Three rules for safe computing:
anti-virus software up to date, and delete files that are found
to have a virus. Inform the person who sent you the infected
file, and ETCS.
a Word or Excel file that has a macro in it. If you must open
the document, disable the macro.
(double click) a file that you receive via E-mail as an attached
file if it ends in ".exe". This means you will never see that
cute little cartoon that your cousin sent you, but it also means
you will never run a program that erases your hard drive without
you knowing it, until it is too late.