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Chapter 9. Viruses, Trojan Horses, Hoaxe... > Defending Against Threats

Defending Against Threats

Although the threat of viruses and Trojans is constantly changing, protecting against them is relatively easy. The first and best defense is antivirus software, which I’ll talk about momentarily. If you’re already armed with AV software, here are a few tricks that will help reduce your risk of exposure.

  • Do not open files or run software from unknown sources. Even e-mail from known sources can contain Trojans or viruses, so encourage your friends and family to get antivirus protection too.

  • Read e-mail in plain text only. HTML allows scripting that can be used to gather data about your system or put Trojan code on your system. To set this in Outlook, choose Options from the Tools menu. Then select the Mail Format tab shown in Figure 9-1. You can select plain text or Rich Text format safely; just don’t use HTML format.

    Figure 9-1. Changing the mail format

  • Download software only from reputable sources. Software from unknown sources can easily be altered with Trojan-horse code.

  • Upgrade to the newest versions of your browser and Office Suite software, and turn on macro protection if your software supports this option (see Figure 9-2).

    Figure 9-2. Turning on Macro Security in Microsoft Word 2000

  • Turn off Windows Scripting Host if you do not need it. You can learn how by going to www.sophos.com/support/faqs/wsh.html. Windows Scripting Host is a program that lets you run scripts written in several different languages on a Windows system. These scripts can be written in VBScript, JavaScript, or PERL, among others.

  • Always write-protect floppy disks (if you still use them) before taking them to other machines for use.

  • Make regular backups of data. If possible, use CDs for your backups or write-protect your tapes or disks after creating the backup to prevent infection later.

  • Make a clean system boot disk with a copy of your AV software on it (if you can), so you have a way to get a clean startup for cleaning, if needed. Put this disk in a safe place and update it when you upgrade your operating system.



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