The Weekly Geek

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Virus Attacks

September 5th, 2003 · No Comments

Welcome back to another fun filled adventure of The Weekly Geek.

This edition is going to be a little off of our original plan for optimizing your computer. With the advent of the LovSan (also known as the “MSBlaster” because of the files that it creates) I figured I had better let you in on how to decrease your risk of catching and spreading such an infection.

As I write this, the media is passing on their scare hype and over zealous antics. Because of the massive media blitz, I am not going to cover this worm in particular. After all, this threat is not new. Think of it as just a more advanced form of the flu. Yes dangerous, but if you are prepared then you need only be alert and not panicked. By the way, this particular worm affects only Windows 2000 and XP operating systems so users of 95, 98 and ME are not affected. Just because you may not be affected by this one attack does not mean that you should shrug your shoulders and walk off. Recently I removed over 300 viruses and a dozen or so worms from a user’s computer. For exact ways to remove the worm go to your antivirus provider’s web site or www.trendmicro.com.

Over the next few weeks I am planning on going into each type of attack and how to protect yourself and others. Like SARS, and the influenza (flu), prevention is the best policy. To prevent the spread of the flu you wash your hand frequently, do not sneeze on others and get a shot. Unlike the flu though, computer viruses and their counterparts are not seasonal so year around prevention is necessary.

The first thing is to keep current with “Microsoft Critical Updates”. Many of you have heard of horror stories from Uncle Bob’s third cousin’s best friend’s sister’s ex-boyfriend and how running an update caused the volcanic eruption at Pompeii, however, that is an exaggeration. I will not mislead you and state that all updates and patches by Microsoft work as planned, some do have conflicts with some computers and or software, however I still use an umbrella when it rains, even though I might get struck by lightning, I know if I do not use it I will get sick sooner or later with the flu.

Microsoft does not pay programmers and their supervisors to make these patches and updates just because they can. Instead, these updates are created especially for your protection, to close known gaps in software code that could allow hackers to get in and do bad things to your system.

Right now as I write this, getting an update from Microsoft is virtually impossible due to the influx of people trying to do so. By the time you read this the major attack will be over, however, you still can be a carrier of this and many other viruses and worms.

To update your computer connect to the internet as usual. If you use AOL, Juno or any program that does not open Internet Explorer then after connecting you need to minimize the screen and on your desktop double click on the blue “e” to open Internet Explorer. If you are not sure that you use Internet Explorer, with your browser open, look at the top bar that is blue across the screen. It will say Internet Explorer, Mozilla, Netscape or such across it. You must have Internet Explorer (IE) open to run the updates, even if you use another browser on a regular basis. Also, if you do not use Internet Explorer, say you use AOL, you are still open to attacks and need to run these updates through Internet Explorer.

Once IE is open, across the top of the browser is the Menu bar. Click one time on “Tools”. The menu that drops down should have “Windows Update” as one of the choices. If not then you are using a version older than version 5 (version 6 has been out for over a year). By clicking on “Windows Update” you will be automatically be taken to the proper site. If your version of IE does not have this choice on the address bar (the one with the lines www.whatever.com), you will need to delete what is in this bar and type in www.windowsupdate.microsoft.com. If you have Windows 95, I am sorry but you are out of luck, Microsoft quit supporting this version a few years back. As a matter of fact, Microsoft will quit supporting Windows 98 and NT around Christmas time this year, so get these updates while you can.

UPDATE: Microsoft quit making new updates for Windows 98 and ME during the summer of 2006. Currently you can get all the updates to that point the same way listed here.

Once at the site you may have one or two “Security Warnings” appear. Select “Yes” to accept them, you must have them to proceed. Next you will need to select the button/text that appears stating “Scan for Updates”. This may take a while depending upon the type of connection you have and how many updates are needed. When the scan is complete select “Review and Install Updates” and the “Install Now”. If you are on a dialup connection, go eat dinner or go to bed, this can take a couple of hours.

When the system finishes, you will need to reboot your computer. Once that has completed, go back out and check for the updates again to be sure that there was not a “one file load” or an update to an update.

When you have no more Critical Updates, go and update your Antivirus program. Every anti-virus program is different but basically you will need to open your Anti virus program and look around for an “Update” button. Next week I will attempt to cover the basics of viruses and the anti-virus programs.

I strongly recommend having your antivirus automatically update at least daily. As for Windows Automatic Update feature, I strongly recommend it. This feature goes out and checks for updates every day. If you are on a dial up connection this will slow down your internet surfing dramatically.

This is just the beginning of our walk through Virus Worms and Trojans, so stayed tuned for more exciting columns from The Weekly Geek. Until we meet again have a virus free week!

Tags: Malware · Security · Virus · Worms