Computer Viruses: You Are NOT Protected

Charles L. Werner shows why computer viruses have become a serious concern for the emergency service community.


"New virus wipes hard drives, calls 911." This was one of the headlines on CNN on April 3, 2000. In this story, the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) identified a new virus that can erase hard drives and take control of a user's modem in order to dial a 911 emergency line...


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Infections Via E-Mail

Many infected files find their way to your computer system by e-mailed attachments. If you don't know the sender or are in any way suspicious, DO NOT OPEN THE ATTACHMENT AND DELETE IT!

Until now, it would have been acceptable to open an attachment from someone you know. Today, that is no longer true. The "I Love You" virus and others that followed take the addresses from e-mail address books and send it to people listed. In this case, you would be receiving an infected attachment from someone you do know. The latest recommendation regarding attachments is that you do not open any attachment from anyone unless you are expecting it! One key thought for any e-mail: if you don't know from whom it's sent, DELETE IT.

C net provides these pointers to protect your data:

  • If it's important, you should have more than one copy (back it up).
  • If it's important, it shouldn't be easy for someone else to open, find or overwrite it.
  • If it's important, don't store it on only your hard drive.
  • Maintain updated anti-virus software.

No software can totally protect any computer system from every virus. Successful protection will depend on regularly updated anti-virus software, proper methods of dealing with attachments and backing up important information.


Charles L. Werner, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a battalion chief with the Charlottesville, VA, Fire Department. He is the Technology Chair for the State Fire Chiefs Association of Virginia, Communications/Technical Coordinator for the National Fire Academy Alumni Association and is a member of the Firehouse.com Web Team.