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Virus Protection and Security Checklist

Your employees can quickly get the latest updates for their computer's operating system, software, and hardware on the Windows Update site. Windows Update scans the computer and provides a selection of appropriate updates.

Virus protection is a two-stage process. First, you need to educate your users, and then strengthen your network’s security defenses. Review this checklist to see if your employees and systems are covered.

1. Educate employees.

This is the key to virus protection: Implement a plan to update employees and managers on computer viruses and company policies.

2. Arm yourself with virus protection.

Virus protection software, like McAfee VirusScan and Norton Antivirus, should be updated on a regular basis across your entire network. To do this, either check with the provider for updates or ensure you have purchased antivirus software that can automatically update daily.

3. Avoid download dangers.

Employees may download software applications—such as programs to block pop-up advertising—but they inadvertently may be installing spyware or hidden viruses. Have employees contact IT or network security when they want to download and install any program onto their computers.

4. Watch the Web.

Viruses can come from Web sites and email messages. Make sure the email program you install across your network has security features that can support your virus protection program. Microsoft Outlook 2003, for example, has an approach to virus protection that includes multiple level security and filter settings as well as content control features. Get more information about Outlook 2003 security enhancements.

5. Beware of file sharing.

It is inevitable that your employees will exchange files—but even if your desktops are using advanced security technologies, desktops outside the organization may not be. Your employees should know to never open unexpected attachments, and every email message should go through a virus protection screening process. If you install an anti-virus application, this will be automatic when you send a message.

6. Update virus protection programs.

Updating virus protection software is essential to keeping your network’s security strong, but so is your operating system. Virus writers look for loopholes in operating systems to compromise your security. By making sure you have the latest virus definitions and the most current operating system patches, you can help protect your system from new virus threats. Your employees can quickly get the latest updates for their computer's operating system, software, and hardware on the Microsoft Windows Update site. In addition, whoever holds the responsibility for update management (for example, your IT staff) should help set up schedules to make sure both their team and your employees routinely check for updates.

7. Know backup basics.

Even if information is lost to a virus, you can still recover it if your employees have a strong backup system in place. It is important to back up files as well as programs that may have been customized. How often you need to back up depends on the kind of data you collect and the speed to which you need to be back in business if any data is compromised. Make sure each employee has a backup calendar and routine, and follows it.

8. Set up firewalls to help protect your data.

Set up firewalls, like Microsoft ISA Server, wherever your network or employee computers connect beyond your business’s walls. That includes not only the Internet, but also local area networks (LAN) at a customer’s site, and wide area networks (WAN) your users may be accessing on a regular basis.

Find out why you should use a computer firewall.

9. Get rid of spyware.

Spyware is covert marketing software that tracks or records a person’s activity on the Internet without their knowledge. The user is unaware if spyware installs itself when another software program is downloaded and installed. Finding and deleting spyware can be extremely difficult. To remove it, you need spyware removal software.

Learn about spyware and deceptive software and find resources for spyware-fighting software.

10. Encrypt data.

Encrypted information cannot be seen by anyone other than the person for whom it was intended. Companies should try to encrypt all sensitive data, like email messages, financial spreadsheets, and private documents.

•Windows 2000 users should download the Windows 2000 High Encryption Pack.

•Windows XP users should follow steps in this article: How to Encrypt Your Data to Keep It Safe.

By encrypting your email messages and sensitive documents, you add an extra level of security to help protect your data when intruders intercept a message or hit your business network.

This checklist reflects what you can do today. But with the recent announcement of Exchange Edge Services, soon you will have additional resources to help stop attacks before they can affect your business.

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