Preventing virus infections on your network begins with end users. They must understand the risks and take the necessary steps to prevent the spread of infection. And according to TechRepublic member Scott M. Colburn, nothing works as well for end-user inspiration than putting them on an Anti-Virus Task Force.

Colburn, network systems administrator for Top Echelon Network, Inc., in Canton, OH, won a TechRepublic T-shirt for his suggestion on getting end users involved in the process. His was one of hundreds of suggestions submitted in response to “Help prevent the next virus attack!
More than 45,000 viruses exist. And every month, a major new virus rears its ugly head. So how do you forestall the inevitable attacks? We asked TechRepublic members to share their security tips, and then we compiled a comprehensive document based on their strategies and suggestions. Now you can download the “Virus prevention checklist ” and see how your peers are coping with the threat of viruses.
Getting end users involved
“If we are able to determine that a specific user is responsible for spreading a virus through the company, that person is appointed to the Anti-Virus Task Force,” Colburn wrote. “Members of the AVTF must stay after hours to assist in periodic checks of all in-house systems to verify each is equipped with the latest antivirus signature files and program updates. It makes people think twice before opening those e-mail attachments!”

While Colburn wins for his “big stick” idea, we received a variety of other end-user-related suggestions, including a post from Forest4trees, who takes the “carrot” approach.

“Thank the users when they call with concerns (and hoax alerts) and treat them well. That way, when the one real threat out of 99 hoaxes comes along, your users will be ready to listen to you.”

Samuel D. “Skip” Bieber is MIS director, Nu-Way Speaker Products, Inc., in Antioch, IL. He tells employees of his company how, like safe sex, abstinence is the best policy when it comes to suspect e-mail or Web sites. If people complain about how his staff restricts Internet Web surfing or filters out questionable e-mail, he just sends them to a long-time sales manager across the hall who lost two to three years of contacts after a customer inadvertently sent him a virus-infected e-mail.

“Any user who wants to argue with me about my safe surfing safeguards is welcome to, AFTER he/she goes across the hall and discusses the issue with this user first,” Bieber wrote. “Not one user has returned to debate.”
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The collective wisdom
As it happens, the post from Forest4trees also outlined some of the other popular suggestions members submitted in response to our challenge.

For instance, he recommended that IT managers have someone in charge of ensuring antivirus updates are maintained. He also suggested that you use two separate virus-checking products on desktop units and servers, along with a firewall that does some checking as well.

Vince Jennings suggested that if you’re running Windows NT, you secure the registry.

“The security is set using groups so that an administrator can make changes, but the user normally using the PC cannot,” he wrote. Jennings explained that viruses will have the same lack of authority as the users to change things.

“What this does is it stops unauthorized modification of system files and the registry,” Jennings wrote. “This has saved us on at least one occasion where a virus was unable to propagate because it couldn’t make the registry changes it needed.”

Along a similar vein, Matt Rice, who works in desktop support at Personic Software, said that when his company sets up Microsoft Office for clients, they make the template read-only. “[We] haven’t ever had someone complain that they couldn’t change it.”
Do you think the end user should have any responsibility in finding a virus or preventing its spread? Share your opinion by posting a comment below or send us a note.