Lab Notes

Lab Notes

Be the early bird. You say you've got a worm? It happens even to the most experienced users. How do you minimize damage when you realize you have just activated an ugly virus or worm that arrived in e-mail?

Alert your network administrator immediately by paging, flagging down or sending up a flare. All administrators worth their salt have an emergency plan ready for such events.

The best defense is good antivirus software that gets updated regularly and after every well-publicized virus epidemic. And, of course, a good backup routine helps restore the files that got broken. Here are a few more recommendations from the GCN Lab:

  • Quarantine the client as soon as you realize what's happening. Disable the network or modem connection by physically unhooking the cables from the PC. Viruses work fast, but they sometimes take minutes to copy themselves in e-mails or replicate to directories.
  • Immediately run any antivirus software installed on the client. If it for some reason lacks antivirus protection, shut down. Sometimes a virus will maliciously prevent a shutdown. That's when you manually turn the system off. Bring antivirus software on a boot disk and run it before you try booting from the hard drive.
  • Bring down e-mail services or even shut down the office's server until you can get a clear idea of what happened.
  • Administrators should have an isolated emergency system with Internet access via a modem or alternative method not tied to the office's active network. From the isolated system, the administrator can download virus updates or other fix routines.


A little Y2K gutter talk. As if the impending fall of civilization on Jan. 1 weren't enough, it now appears that some of the 2000 readiness testing that is going on everywhere might bring its own dangers.

Los Angeles city officials recently had a surprise when they tested a reclamation plant's emergency power generator for readiness. They discovered that a faulty 1970s-era computer system had caused 4 million gallons of raw sewage to spew onto parkland in the San Fernando Valley during the test.

The city is now replacing the faulty system and fully expects things to be ready before the end of the year. Although officials said there is no serious public health threat, they have closed a 10-acre section of the park.

Words of wisdom. A cabdriver recently summed it all up: 'You know, with all this millennium craziness, the Y2K stuff couldn't have come along at a worse time.' We absolutely agree.

By Jason Byrne and Michael Cheek

Internet: jbyrne@gcnlab.com and mailto:mcheek@gcnlab.com

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