False sense of security
When is virus prevention not virus prevention? When the antivirus software hasn't been updated for months...or at all. Not a week goes by that I don't meet with someone who thinks their computer is protected, only to find that the last antivirus updates they receive were sometime in 2001.
Computer manufacturers are one source of the problem. These days, most new Windows PCs arrive with either McAfee VirusScan or Norton Antivirus. Where, in the past, these might have been full version, now they are usually only 30-90 day trial versions which expire. No matter how much I remind my clients, this software often goes un-updated and un-purchased. Worse still, due to the design of the software, it often isn't clear that the software isn't working. Unless the user carefully reads the notification dialog boxes, they might continue along, not realizing they need to take action.
Such was the case yesterday. I have only worked for this client once, quite a few months ago, but I was called back to solve a few minor issues. They have 2 machines, one old and one new. The old machines, running Windows 98, was running an ancient version of Norton Antivirus. It was impossible to upgrade this software using the online tools. The user will now need to go and purchase a more current version. The new machine had come with the typical 90 day trial software. It had, of course, expired. It would not surprise me to discover, once the client installs their new software, to find at least one virus infection, if not more on both of these machines.
I have been working on improving my followup with clients this year, but here I see room for improvement. Starting now, I will include followup notices in my calendar whenever I set up a demo version of the software and more generic notices to remind clients to check their software to insure that it is still operating. The prevalence of virus and worm threats is simply too large to be ignored. Even though I feel that I am somewhat of a harpy on antivirus issues, there is, obviously, much more to be done. While each day of work brings new challenges, many of the old challenges remain.
Not that you should need me to say it, check your antivirus software today and make sure it is really doing its job.