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Security Awarness For Everyone
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Computer Viruses

The term "computer virus" originally applied to a self-replicating, sometimes destructive, program segment that attached itself to a legitimate executable program. Over time, the term has come to refer to a wide range of computer-based activities which exploit a variety of potential transmission and/or replication mechanisms. The primary point is that a virus, whatever specific type it might be, is a program running on your machine the purpose and consequences of which you do not know. In effect, the integrity of your machine, and possibly your CIO network, has been destroyed.

Donít be fooled into a false sense of security. Here are some facts you need to know.

  • Defensive behavior on your part is an integral part of CDCís anti-virus posture.
  • An entirely new computer virus can sweep through a network and never be detected by the anti-virus software. That is why so much effort is put into keeping virus patterns up to date and watching for the emergence of new viruses.
  • Many new viruses are discovered each month.
  • While some viruses are quite destructive to information stored on the infected device, or cause denial of services due to the load on the system, these may not be the most dangerous. Rather, viruses that enter quietly, sending information to an unknown destination and becoming smarter by downloading new instructions pose much more complex problems which may have far wider consequences than previous viruses.
  • Handheld devices and cellular phones are not immune.
  • Unless you have written authorization to do so, you are not authorized to change the settings on your virus scanning software. Unauthorized changes are a serious violation of policy, and technical staff are required to report them to the CIO ISSO, when discovered.

What is often overlooked in computing the cost of a computer virus is the potential for loss of customer confidence, lost of productivity, missed deadlines and increased stress.

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This CD-ROM was produced April 8, 2003
from the original content of "Security Awareness for Everyone."

Copywrite 2001 Security Awareness, Inc.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention