Anti-virus software defends a computer against malicious or destructive computer code or software. This code can use system resources, cause crashes and result in lost data. Spyware is software installed on a computer that “steals” information and shares it with others. This information may include websites visited, e-mail addresses, passwords, social security numbers, and credit card information.
Dealing with viruses and spyware and the effects they have is a lot like dealing with real viruses and diseases. It’s an ongoing battle to keep computers disease free and safe. Fixing problems caused by these viruses and spyware can be frustrating at the least and sometimes very costly.
Generally, people would not knowing install software that could harm their computers or invade their privacy. So virus writers disguise their intent so that users inadvertently install the “payload”. They may hide their “payload” inside a piece of desirable software or trick the user into installing it themselves.
The Minnesota State Academies uses a multi-tiered defense against viruses and spyware. At the entrance to the schools network a firewall device watches for unwanted Internet traffic and blocks requests for information.
Before email reaches the email server it passes through another device which scans each email. This device blocks obvious virus and spyware laden email while also filtering out unwanted email called Spam. Then email passes through Trend Micro Scanmail, an application that checks each email again for hidden viruses and spyware.
An Internet filter also scans requests by users for web pages that are known to host virus and spyware software so that these pages aren’t displayed in the web browser.
Each computer on the network has Trend Micro Office Scan installed on it. This anti-virus software performs another scan on incoming email and also scans documents and Internet traffic that may have made it through the previous filters.
Servers on the network are also protected by anti-virus software from Trend Micro.
But our first line of defense is education. Teaching computer users what to watch for, what to avoid and how to be a good “netizen” is by far the best deterrent to computer infections.
MSA Information Technology tries to protect network computers and their users with this multi-tiered anti-virus solution. Also, our four IT Specialist are always available to respond to user questions about questionable email, websites and documents.