Security Awareness Tips: It takes a community


Posted on Thursday, September 7, 2017

Unfortunately, computer viruses are a fact of life. They can be both disruptive and destructive. But with quick thinking, prompt reporting, and a few simple precautions, we can all reduce their impact on our operations.

What is a virus hoax? A virus hoax is an e-mail warning about a virus that does not exist. It is designed to create excessive e-mail traffic as people forward the message to their friends. It is also designed to create panic or paranoia within an organization. A virus hoax is difficult to spot without training. Any virus warning you receive should be sent to your local service desk and Information System Security Officer (ISSO) for analysis.

What can a virus do? A virus can do many things. The simplest virus locks out a user’s screen or displays a message on a given date. At the opposite end of the scale, deadlier viruses destroy files, disable computer systems or bring down entire networks.

How can I reduce the risk of catching a virus? It is impossible to create a system that is fully protected against a virus infection. However, you can reduce the risk and impact by following some simple practices.

1. Do not open e-mails with strange subject lines - even from people you know. These e-mails are designed to pique your curiosity and trick you into opening the message. If you get such an e-mail from someone you know, try to contact the person and verify if they sent it.
2. Never open e-mail attachments from people you do not know. Double clicking an e-mail attachment launches it. Launching an infected attachment also activates the virus.
3. Be careful of the files you download from the web, Internet Relay Chat, or ICQ (chat/instant messaging). People who spread viruses sometimes try to trick others into accepting infected applications through these programs. Again, if you do not know the person, or the file/subject name seems strange, do not accept the file.
4. Store all critical data on the server. If your system does become infected and your data corrupted, it can be restored from the server’s backup once your system is cleaned.
5. Avoid using web-based e-mail (e.g. Hotmail) or downloading your personal Internet Service Provider (ISP) e-mail at work. Department of National Defence (DND)’s Exchange Servers are protected by anti-virus software. Any e-mail that does not pass through the Exchange Servers is not scanned by the anti-virus software.

What if I suspect my computer has a virus?
1. Don’t panic.
2. Stop working on your system immediately. Do not attempt to save your work or power down the workstation. These kinds of actions can make a virus infection worse.
3. Disconnect your computer from your Local Area Network.
4. Contact your local ISSO or Service desk immediately. Do not attempt to remove the virus yourself.
5. Make notes about the infection. Try to determine when you first noticed the infection, where it may have come from, and note any symptoms your computer may have displayed.