BLTC Press Titles

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Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll

Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man

Friedrich Schiller

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

The Secret Doctrine, Volume II Anthropogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

Computer viruses and related threats

by John P. Wack


This document is intended primarily for the managers of multi-user systems, personal computers, and associated networks, and managers of end-user groups. Additionally, the document is useful for the users of such systems. The document presents an overview of computer viruses and related threats, how they typically work, the methods by which they can attack, and the harm they can potentially cause. It then presents guidance in the following areas:

Multi-User Systems and Associated Networks - with guidance directed at managers of medium to small systems (as opposed to mainframes that already provide generally effective security controls or are by their nature more secure) and associated wide area and large local area networks, as well as managers of endusers of such systems

Personal Computer Systems and Networks - guidance is directed at those responsible for the management of personal computers and personal computer networks, as well as the managers of personal computer end-users

Within these general categories, individual computing environments will vary widely, from size of computer to user population to type of software and computing requirements. To accommodate these differences, the guidance presented here is general in nature. It attempts to address computer security problems and vulnerabilities that are likely to be found in most computing environments. This document does not address problems directly related to specific brands of software or hardware. A reading list at the end of the document contains references and pointers to other literature that address specific systems and software.

Recommended control measures are grouped according to categories that include general policies and procedures, education, software management, technical controls, monitoring, and contingency planning. The guidance emphasizes the need for a strong security program as a means for protection from manifestations of viruses and related threats, and as a means for providing detection, containment, and recovery. Such a security program requires personal involvement on the part of management to ensure that the proper policies, procedures, and technical controls exist, and that users are educated so that they can follow safe computing practices and understand the proper actions to take if they detect the presence of viruses or related threats. The guidelines recommend that network managers, multi-user system managers, end-users, and end-user managers work with each other and approach virus protection from an organizationally consistent basis.

1.2 How to Use This Guide

This document is divided into five chapters and two appendices. Chapter 2 describes in general how viruses and related software operate, the vulnerabilities they exploit, and how they can be introduced into systems and networks. Chapter 3 discusses general protection strategies and control measures that apply to technical and end-user management in general; this is done so that the same guidance need not be repeated for each of the succeeding chapters that deal with specific environments. Chapters 4 and 5 present guidance specific to multi-user and personal computer environments, respectively. The guidance in these chapters is directed at the respective technical managers and managers of associated networks, as well as the managers of end-user groups that use such systems and networks. It is recommended that all readers, regardless of their management perspective, examine Chapters 3, 4, and 5 to gain a fuller appreciation of the whole environment with regard to threats, vulnerabilities, and controls.

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