abstracted from “Keeping Viruses at Bay” by Odvard Egil Dyrli District Administration, November 2002 http://www.districtadministration.com/story.asp?txtFilename=features/dyrli.htm

Computer viruses can reap havoc on school computers, especially those attached to system-wide networks and the internet. Still, there are ways to avoid falling victim to such dangerous infections.

More than 70,000 such viruses have been identified with the potential to trash operating systems and throw hard drives into disarray, the author warns. What’s more, new viruses continue to crop up attached to random eMail addresses and deceptive greetings meant to trick users into opening dangerously infected attachments.

How bad is the problem? One in every 200 messages now contains some version of the Klez virus, experts say—a potentially disastrous breed of computer infection that pirates return eMail addresses designed to make contaminated attachments appear legitimate.

Here are five suggestions for safeguarding school computers against virus infiltration:

• Invest in antivirus software from a well-known company such as Symantec or McAfee. These tools will help your machines detect unwanted guests.

• Continuously update the protection barrier. Viruses evolve, but so do the measures put in place to detect them. Use the latest versions of antivirus programs, and update their virus signatures regularly (say, once a week).

• Always delete “suspect messages” immediately, especially those messages with .bat, .exe, .pif, and .scr extensions.

• Scan all attachments for viruses before opening them.

• Install the latest security patches designed for your current operating system.