Early alerts, quick action prevent state and local systems disasters

Quick thinking and virus protection software spared some state and local governments
during the Melissa outbreak.


Denny McGuire, an analyst at the North Carolina IRM Division, said the division sent
out alerts to agency security managers on Monday morning, March 29.


The state General Assembly network was hit, but system administrators worked hard to
bring the situation under control, McGuire said.


Kevin Rice, Wyoming’s management information systems coordinator, said none of the
state employees he surveyed after the outbreak had received the Melissa virus on the
state’s Novell GroupWise Version 5.2 e-mail system.


Most of the state’s servers run Intel’s LANDesk virus software, Rice said.
LANDesk sent out a warning to all the state servers as soon as the Melissa virus was
identified, he said.


Rice said the state’s system was able to escape infection because it does not use
Microsoft Outlook messaging.


Officials in North Dakota’s Information Services Division spotted the Melissa
virus on Friday afternoon, March 26, said Dan Sipes, associate director of administration
for the division.


Division officials shut down the connection to Internet mail from Friday until Monday
afternoon. That gave officials time to alert all the state’s agencies, and it gave
everybody a chance to download virus patches and the latest versions of antivirus
software, Sipes said. “It didn’t disrupt business much,” he said.


A wired town east of Dallas escaped the Melissa virus.


“We didn’t get hit with it all,” said John D’Anna, chief
information officer for Tyler, Texas. “Once we heard about it, we set up our
Microsoft Proxy 2.0 software to automatically delete any message with the Melissa header
of ‘Important message from … ’ ”


D’Anna and his team kept a log of any message that did have the “Important
message” subject and sent a reply message that said, “Please change the subject
of this message and resend it.”


“We were fortunate, but we took steps to protect ourselves,” D’Anna
said. 


—Claire House and Trudy Walsh


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