Thursday, January 29, 2004

Have you hugged your IT support person today?

I have been working hard for the past 2 days to contain the recent outbreak of the new MyDoom worm virus at my customer’s office. We were lucky this time since the first outbreak of the virus happened during US work hours which meant that my US counterparts had to deal with it first. Of course that didn’t stop them from calling me at 3 in the morning to inform me of the virus threat and to put me on standby should they need to get something done for Asia. Anyway... by the time I got into the office, the worst has passed for us as our anti-virus vendor had already provided us with the latest definition file that would fix this virus. The only thing that I had to do by then was to make sure that my automated virus definition update process was running and that all the computers at my customer’s site got the updated file. We still have blocks up on our email servers to scan all incoming and outgoing email attachments which does slow down our email distribution system a bit but it is well worth it considering we are consider liable if our systems start distributing viruses.

MyDoom worm doesn’t seem to cause much damage to the machine it infects per se but it does use the resources of the machine to launch a denial of service attack to several website this coming February month. While the user can still potentially use the computer, these zombified machines may run slower than normal as it continues to bombard the intended target when the viral payload is triggered. Our team here is working hard to put controls in place that will block the package, if there are any left in our network, from going out and jamming the intended target. We have the means to do this but I doubt that every one would be able to do the same especially those home users.

This latest virus and most of its ilk could have been easily avoided if people simply exercise a measure of common sense when operating their computer and/or email account. I think that we have seen so many similar attacks reported in the media that almost every one who owns a computer should know by now to be wary of unsolicited attachment files coming from unsubstantiated email addresses. I could rant on and on (I already did this in a previous entry) about opening unverified attachments but I guess that it all boils down to the individual. As long as they see the computer just as a black box and have no basic or the even the desire to learn about the basics of how their computer works, they would never be able to learn this lesson until they themselves get hit by a virus and have to lose their data.

Of course by then, it would be too late and more often than not they come crying to IT support people like us to pull a miracle and salvage their years of work. Sometimes, if they are lucky and we like them enough, this can be done. Of course if they come to us all hysterical and blaming us for everything short of the end of the world because they made the stupid mistake of opening something that they should have not opened in the beginning, we might not be as friendly or helpful. It pays to be kind to your suffering IT guy. Most of us are power hungry geeks who would never pass up the opportunity to act out our fantasy of becoming the all mighty Wizard of Oz. You may be a director in some company to others but to us you are only another insignificant blip on our network.

Maybe this is just me enjoying my little ego trip a little too much today?

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