Sophos warns against ignoring established virus threat

July 12, 1999 Sophos Press Release

Macro viruses still topping the charts

SYDNEY - Sophos Australia has released its Top 10 of Reported Viruses for the month of June . . . and it makes for some pretty interesting reading!

Although the latest generation of malicious code is now email-aware - and thus able to make itself more widespread, more quickly - old threats should not be forgotten.

The key point to notice is that more than 50 per cent of all incidents reported to Sophos are simple Office macro viruses. These viruses can only be spread by people passing around documents that have unknowingly been infected. These viruses cannot be spread without user intervention.

Method in eliminating madness

Sean Richmond, Sophos Australia's Senior Support Engineer, says adhering to a small number of simple guidelines can practically eliminate these viruses.

"The key point to remember is that by choosing how you save a Microsoft Word document, you can cut out macros altogether," he says

Sophos recommends that whenever you need to send a Microsoft Word document to someone, you select File - Save As from the main menu. Choosing "Rich Text Format (*.rtf)" as the file type means the document you send will look exactly the same, but cannot contain any macros.

You can avoid spreading the virus by saving documents in Rich Text Format. You can also avoid becoming infected by telling people who send you Word documents to use Rich Text Format too.

"All files you receive in email should be treated with suspicion, no matter where they come from, " Richard Baldry, Director of Sophos's Australian operations, says. "After all, viruses are just a type of computer program. If people don't run those programs, they don't get the chance to spread and they won't get the chance to cause any harm."

Sophos has been one of the world's leaders in teaching systems administrators and users how to deal with the threat of computer viruses.

The acclaimed Anti-Virus workshops, in which students get hands-on experience of the techniques used by Europe's most respected researchers in the field, have recently been revised, and will be launched in Australia before the end of the year. For further details, contact Sophos.

June top 10 virus reports