Learning Lessons About Firewalls And Backups

Virus protection and firewalls are a necessary part of network security. But you cannot rely on them as the only way to protect your business information from attack. You must make sure that you are also backing up your data. George learnt this lesson “the hard way”.

A few weeks ago, [George], [the Manager] of a [computer peripheral  supply] business contacted me urgently to ask for help with a virus infection in one of their workstations.

Learning the lessons about firewalls and virus protection

George told me that they had a strong firewall and virus protection in place and that they undertook regular manual backups. As I investigated I discovered that the virus had got through their firewall and already spread to three workstations.

I started the virus scanning and system updating. As this was occurring the virus scanner started quarantining windows system files because [FOR SOME REASON] users had full admin rights on their workstations [INSTEAD OF USER PERMISSIONS].

User permissions would have restricted the virus from infecting only the logged in user and NOT the whole PC. Then simply deleting and recreating user would have cleaned the virus.

When I had completed the scans and performed a reboot the three workstations completely crashed requiring major repairs to Windows. We finally finished the cleanup three days later. The simple virus clean job taking a couple of hours ended up as a scan, clean and repair of the operating system.

Learning the lessons about backups

A few weeks later George called me again. This time he asked me for help with his server which was continually crashing. I soon found that one of the previous virus-infected users had domain admin rights. After a quick remote login I found the virus had spread itself to the server and had infected the mail server. I recommended to George that he restore the server from his backups, as any attempt to clean the virus would corrupt Windows.

At this stage George realised that the manual backups he had been doing had not been working.

George’s business now had to undertake a major system recovery exercise to restore his operating system, data and mail server. It caused major disruptions and cost him a lot of time and money.

Lessons learnt-virus protection and backup

Too many organisations think that their virus protection will offer them security and protect them from attack. Firewalls and virus protection are necessary and important but they cannot guarantee protection from all viruses and other attacks. To fully protect your businesses information you must ensure that you not only install a firewall with virus protection but also have a fully operational backup system in place. George has learnt his lesson the hard way—we would do well to learn from him and not repeat his mistakes.

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