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"Matthew Ferrara Interview 2001"

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4/6/01 Interview with Matthew Ferrara

Matthew Ferrara Seminars and TECH HOTLINE
45 Osgood Street
Methuen, MA 01844

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Computer Viruses and Worms

  1. A virus is a piece of malicious programming usually delivered via email to unsuspecting recipients;
  2. generally it is found in an attachment.
  3. The creative names of viruses are intended to trick you into opening the attachment; as soon as you double click on the attachment, the virus is launched and can do its damage in seconds.
  4. Most viruses are aimed at an individual user or a network with the goal of destroying information.
  5. A worm is a more sophisticated virus that retransmits itself to all Address Book contacts while it causes destruction to the hard drive; it spreads exponentially and its spread is almost unstoppable.
Defensive Strategies

  1. The first strategy is education; remain alert by going to web sites such as PCWorld or ZDNet for warnings about new viruses circulating.
  2. The second strategy is to employ a good, programmed defense; Norton and McAfee both produce good anti-virus software.
  3. Anti-virus programs filter out-going and in-coming email, and files put on your hard drive from a disk, zip disk, CD-ROM or your network.
  4. As viruses become more sophisticated, they may eventually launch themselves, but the software programs should catch them.
The Need to Update

  1. Once anti-virus software is loaded, is must be updated regularly‹at least weekly and preferably daily; new viruses and worms appear at a rate of 10-15 per week.
  2. Updating is easy; some programs such as Norton AntiVirus 2000 prompt you every morning to update and take you online to download the inoculation with one click; Norton AntiVirus 2001 performs the download automatically in the background when you go online.
The Most Critical Step

  1. Anti-virus software must be put into auto-protect or real-time scanning mode to filter every file that is created on or received by your hard drive.
  2. It will prevent you from sending out as well as receiving a virus; this function needs to be operating all the time.
  3. Damage to your system from a worm is bad, but worse is sending the worm to a consumer who sees your name just as his system crashes.
What to Do When a Virus Is Detected

  1. Anti-virus software flashes a warning when a virus is detected and gives you choices: repair, quarantine, delete; the safest choice is delete.
  2. There is always a chance that a repair will not be complete or that by mistake a quarantined file will be released; if you delete an infected file that was sent to you, just request that a clean version be re-sent.
Handling Spam

  1. Spam is the sending or receiving of an ad or marketing material between parties who have no relationship; it is unwanted, electronic junk mail; information for which the recipient opted in is not spam.
  2. The delete key is the first line of defense, but another strategy is to engage a filter system at your ISP level; BrightMail is one filtering service that many ISPs use, and individuals can also subscribe to it.
  3. E-mail products such as Outlook and Outlook Express allow the user to set email filtering rules; a feature in many products allows the user to click "Add to Junk Senders List" to block messages from a particular source.
Virus Attacks on Other Equipment

  1. Equipment besides PCs is at risk from viruses; specific ones are aimed directly at the mobile phone user or PDA user.
  2. While the immediate damage is limited to deleting your address book and/or email messages that are on your phone, a virus can pass from your phone or PDA to your laptop or PC during synchronization.
  3. The more wireless tools that develop, the more opportunities there will be for virus makers.
Forwarding Email to a Cell Phone

  1. Based on a commitment to give clients who communicate by email service as good as those who communicate by phone or fax, Ferrara aims to respond to email within 60 minutes during standard business hours.
  2. Ferrara has rules and filters set in his email software to identify customers and clients who require a quick response and to forward their messages to his phone; other messages are held in his In Box for standard checking.
  3. On an average day, he gets 50-60 email messages forwarded to his digital phone; he does a mass-delete to clear the system for the next day.
Protection from Hackers

  1. Hackers, who have been around as long as the Internet and want to test its abilities, are partially misunderstood and partially "bad guys"; they attempt to tunnel into systems and exploit their weaknesses.
  2. Because hackers gain entrance to systems through the ISP, users of DSL lines and cable access (who get a static address on the Internet) are more vulnerable than users of dial-up service (who are given a random address when they dial in).
  3. Firewall technology is intended to protect against hackers; the first level of defense is to configure firewall service from your service provider.
  4. A higher level of network security can be achieved with hardware (a router that has a firewall) or software such as BlackIce Defender or Norton Internet Security 2001; the software programs will test and show you the vulnerabilities of your system and allow you to set the level of protection you find comfortable.
  5. These products give you greater control over what comes into your computer or network and the kinds of requests you accept; a simple live chat creates a mini-network and opens a transfer channel that can be exploited by someone knowledgeable.
  6. Sites on the Web will also test the security of your connection and suggest remedies‹e.g., at, go into the AntiVirus Research Center or the firewall area and click the test link.
  7. Check your browser for configurations that will increase/decrease security.
Backing Up‹The Ultimate Defense

  1. This basic strategy is the ultimate line of defense, not just against viruses but also against damage, theft and accidents.
  2. For simplicity, purchase a tape back-up drive and use it every business day; plug it into the USB port of your PC or laptop, stick in a tape and press "Go"; in a short time, everything on your drive will be duplicated.
Preventing an Internet Doomsday

  1. A whole new class of viruses that will be imbedded in web pages is just beyond the horizon; these have the potential to create far greater data loss than the email variety.
  2. Aggressive companies such as Norton, McAfee and Panda have full-time, 24/7 staff who specialize in tracking down and interacting with hackers and virus creators; they should be able to stay on top of developments, but at great cost in time and money.
  3. Everyone must remain vigilant; individuals must take the job of protection seriously because there is no ultimate solution to technology espionage.
Contact Information for Matthew Ferrara:

(v) 800-253-2350
(f) 978-688-0055

Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

Anti-virus software:
Norton AntiVirus 2000
Norton AntiVirus 2001
McAfee VirusScan

Panda AntiVirus Bright Mail:

Internet security software:
Norton Internet Security 2001