A Reminder To Always Be Alert

November, 2002

Remember the Code Red virus? How about Nimda? It has been more than a year since these viruses have attacked computers worldwide. Perhaps the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks last year served as a reminder to people, about protecting themselves from cyberterrorism. Post-Sept. 11 studies have found that 88 percent of firms now realize the importance of protecting company information. Nationwide, total revenues for anti-virus solutions are expected to approach $1.5 billion by year’s end and grow to more than $5.2 billion by 2006, according to the Radicati Group Inc., an international consulting and market-research firm. But all the spending in the world will not protect your computers and e-mail.

“Viruses continue to show up at a pretty decent pace, but I think people have gotten more diligent in protecting those kinds of things,” says John Agsalud, president of ISDI. “They realize the ramifications of entire networks shutting down.” His company last October just finished developing an online system for the Department of Taxation. It also had just developed a software system for the Attorney General’s office. The latter provides criminal history, rap sheets and other vital sources of information used by local agencies and private companies.

Computers that are most vulnerable to viruses are those with older software systems that lack common security programs and anti-virus protection. Local security leaders say that computers that are file- and print sharing-enabled, also are susceptible to hackers. “They can hack those and try various passwords to get in,” says Randy Williams, senior software developer for Computer Training Academy. “People are much more security conscious. There are many companies that offer affordable Internet security software programs that are easy to install. A few years ago, we didn’t have those choices.”

However, as the technology has improved, so have the minds of hackers. “It’s an offensive and defensive battle we fight,” he says. -CSC

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Cathy S. Cruz