Server Virus Protection
Computer Server Virus Software

By now the majority of users are aware of the need to utilise an anti virus program on individual computer systems. But a large percentage of the hardware and software used to provide service for those users to use resides elsewhere. As well as individual PC's, computer viruses also attack web servers, file servers, ftp and email servers, together with routers and other network equipment.

Servers are substantially the same as PC's but have more memory, disk space and processors. Web servers house web pages and programs for Internet users whilst email servers store, send and receive email. File and ftp servers store and distribute all manner of files for other systems. Routers are specialised computers, with proprietary operating systems, that route network traffic.

Most operate much like an individual computer system and are subject to the same kinds of attacks. They can therefore be protected by much the same means as in regular use of computer server virus software. Servers should also be firewall protected to shut down vulnerable entry points or ports on the Internet.

As servers and routers provide services to multiple user systems, they are more frequently attacked which means that the use of a good anti virus program is important. Individual users can help systems administrators by keeping their own computer systems clean and refrain from passing on viruses to other users across the network. Administrators can help themselves by resisting the temptation to use servers as personal computers with full email clients and fully enabled browsers.

Users can assist administrators and themselves by being more careful when selecting which browser to use and the configuration of that application. The majority of users could profit from better self education in how to minimise the 'target area' for hackers by changing browser settings. Users and professionals have made strides in voicing concern over security vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer. Adopting other browsers such as Firefox, in greater numbers, will help to get the message across.

Users and administrators should avoid using bootable CD's and DVD's that have not been virus scanned after being burned with any software and/or files. Sometimes the process that creates the CD or DVD propagates viruses, just as floppy disks did a few years ago.

FTP servers, used to store files and also the sending and receiving of those files over networks, should not really still be in use. Vanilla ftp (File Transfer Protocol) cannot be secured since passwords are passed in unencrypted text over the network where they can be picked up by sniffers. Sniffers are software and also hardware that is used to spy on networks. Secure FTP versions should be used instead.

Users should also take an active role in encouraging network administrators to lock down systems. Most administrators do a very good job taking into account their limited time and resources However, security concerns can sometimes be well down their list of priorities. Very few servers have a thorough expert security check at any time during their serviceable lifetimes. That would change if individual users didn't passively assume by default that everything is fine until things go wrong.

The Future

Microsoft and other large vendors are making strides in designing hardware and software which is better protected 'out of the box'. Just as one example, one common virus exploit is called a 'buffer overrun'. Memory is used by all programs and it's divided into areas called buffers of a certain size.

Hackers use a known technique for causing malicious program instructions to 'overflow' these buffers providing them with more access than the legitimate program intended. A large majority of the security fixes involves securing these buffers. Through fundamental design changes, hardware and operating system designers are addressing this by making 'buffer overrun' a thing of the past.