In an April 23 article, USA TODAY reported that foreign hackers are using "tainted Microsoft Office files" to compromise the computer networks of select federal agencies as well as nuclear and defense contractors. To the casual reader, the article gives the impression that these attacks are a new phenomenon — wrong. Office macro viruses have been around since the Concept virus was released in 1995. In 1999, the Melissa worm targeted Word 97 and Word 2000, clogging e-mail servers as it spread.
Unfortunately, convincing an unsuspecting person to install a piece of malicious software is still one of the easiest ways to gain unauthorized access to a computer network. Fighting such attacks requires educating end users and effectively using technical countermeasures.
The following PowerPoint presentations can help you with both these tasks:
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.