Virus checkers ease IT stress

Automatic virus checkers have taken a major source of stress away from IT managers. Instead of constantly having to put the fear of electronic death into every member of staff, they can install the necessary software on each PC and put their feet up - until the next upgrade comes along at any rate. In the latest Computerworld 1000 Survey of top IT managers, only one out of the 30 IT managers questioned doesn't have automatic virus-scanning software running.

Automatic virus checkers have taken a major source of stress away from IT managers.

Instead of constantly having to put the fear of electronic death into every member of staff, they can install the necessary software on each PC and put their feet up — until the next upgrade comes along at any rate.

In the latest Computerworld 1000 Survey of top IT managers, only one out of the 30 IT managers questioned doesn’t have automatic virus-scanning software running.

Richard Sell of Aspac Vacations says his firm runs McAfee software just once a week. “We run it every Sunday, to scan the file server. We don’t need to do it any more often, because we don’t deal with a large amount of external data or attachments coming in. We do have a hell of a lot of email traffic but the majority of that is generated internally and a lot is made up of automatic replies.”

Every three months or so, McAfee sends upgrades for Sell to install. “We’ve been pretty fortunate,” he says, “with no major viruses being found. A few have come in on disks but they’re been picked up — some of our PCs have older scanners on their C drive and they’ve caught them in time.”

Sell says he gets sick of the scaremongering virus warning emails in circulation. “You know the ones, they more or less say that ‘if you get this virus then your whole company will collapse’. I suppose they keep awareness up, but they’re just rubbish really.”

All other respondents have automatic software which they tend to upgrade either monthly or as new versions are released. The most popular software comes from McAfee and Norton, followed by F-PROT and CA Cheyenne. Three respondents use more than one, just to be on the safe side. And viruses are certainly out there: 20 respondents have recently come across viruses, though most say they didn’t take note of which ones — they just get rid of them as quickly as possible. Those they do remember seeing recently include Junkie, a Swedish virus released in May 94, CAP .A., a complex Word macro virus (one of the most common worldwide) and various Mac-based viruses.

Ewen Church, IS manager at Upper Hutt City Council, has picked up W32.CIH, DNV.H and a macro virus in the three months since he installed McAfee software. “The system simply discovered, cleaned up and got rid of them,” he says. Two had come through emails and one from a personal floppy disk.

“Touch wood, we haven’t had any really nasty ones yet,” says Warwick Dodds, information systems manager at Wickliffe Press in Dunedin. “But we do find a lot of viruses through the software. We get them from customers you’d expect would know better —from solicitors, accountants and the like. But we tend to catch them before they do any damage.”

Staff awareness is less of a concern now that the process is automated but 12 companies still run ongoing programmes to keep the subject in people’s minds. The majority — 23 — feel that awareness is high enough but seven managers are still uncomfortable and want to boost virus awareness in their companies.

Jerome Macapagal, DP manager at Auckland-based Mike Henry NZ, says the constant shield of the virus software he uses means there’s not such a strong need for staff awareness as there was in the past, “but it’s still something I try to keep people informed about”.

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