By Doug Carner
This is part one of a special two-part TechTalk. It is a must-keep column for you to share with everyone you know who owns a personal computer running Windows software.
It seems as though we read about a new "killer" computer virus nearly every month. Each threat stirs a new wave of virus-protection software updates. While anti-virus programs are quick to react, they are often merely the cure to the illness your computer suffers, not a preventive measure. On some computers, anti-virus software can keep your business programs from operating correctly--especially those with automatic serial-port communications, such as self-storage software that processes overnight gate access or rent collections by credit card.
For the virus writers, it is a game of cat and mouse with your valuable computer files caught in the precarious balance. There are some amazingly simple steps you can take that will prevent most viruses from ever entering your computer. In this case, more than ever, an once of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But first, it would be helpful to understand how a computer virus works.
Every known virus is a set of instructions designed to carry out a malicious task on a specific date or event. Some viruses pass script commands to naive sections of the Windows operating system. The default Windows settings permit script viruses to penetrate deep into your computer while you innocently read an infected e-mail. Other viruses are completely self-contained programs that rely solely on their internal components. These viruses mask as harmless e-mail attachments that beg for you to double-click and install.
This is part one of a two-part series on PC safety. You can execute a few simple steps to safeguard your precious business files. You will instantly be vaccinated against all known script viruses and have reasonable protection from most program viruses. These tips are applicable to Windows 98 operating systems. Not all of these steps will be available in other versions of Windows.
- Once you've turned on your computer and you're at the desktop, click on the START button (usually located in the lower left-hand corner of the desktop). Select the SETTINGS option and then select the CONTROL PANEL option.
- Double-click on the ADD/REMOVE PROGRAMS option.
- Click on the tab for WINDOWS SETUP.
- Highlight the item marked ACCESSORIES and then click on the DETAILS button. A sub-list will appear.
- Move down through the list of choices and remove the check mark next to WINDOWS SCRIPTING HOST.
- Click OK to save your changes and then click OK to close the ADD/REMOVE PROGRAMS window.
- Close the CONTROL PANEL.
- Double-click on the desktop icon called MY COMPUTER. A list of mapped computer drives will appear.
- Right-click once on the "C:" drive and a new menu will appear.
- Click on the SHARING option, and a new screen will appear. If you do not see this option, you already have SHARING protection and should skip ahead to the last step.
- Select SHARED AS and provide a shared name (typically the letter "C").
- Click in the check box next to DEPENDS ON PASSWORD so a check mark appears.
- Enter a common office password in the box labeled FULL ACCESS.
- Click on OK to save your changes.
Repeat the above steps for each hard drive you want to protect.
- Right click on the desktop icon labeled NETWORK NEIGHBORHOOD and a small menu will appear.
- Within that new menu, click on the PROPERTIES option and a new NETWORK screen will appear.
- Click on the FILE AND PRINT SHARING tab to open the sub-window.
- Remove the check mark next to the option that reads "I want to give others access to my files."
- Click on OK to save your changes and click on OK to close the NETWORK window.
- If Windows asks for permission to restart your computer, let it do so now.
- Open Microsoft Word.
- Select the TOOLS menu. Then select MACRO, then the SECURITY option.
- Change the setting to HIGH. Click OK and then exit the program.
- Repeat these steps for every program that supports this option. Outlook, Excel, and PowerPoint are the most common Microsoft programs that have Macro security options.
In next month's column, I will continue with part two of "Protect Your PC" and offer steps toward protecting your computer against the deadliest of viruses and communicating via the Internet.
Doug Carner is the vice president of marketing for QuikStor Security & Software, a Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based company specializing in security, software and management for the self-storage industry. For more information, call 800.321.1987; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.quikstor.com.