Thursday, December 29, 2005

Beware of Pictures

Today you'll be hearing a lot about a new Windows exploit that allows secret code to be executed while you are viewing pictures in Internet Explorer. The pictures in question are clip art type drawing, not photos and have a .wmf file extension. The tricky part is that this clip art drawings can be part of a webpage and you don't have to click on them to install the damaging code into your computer. You only have to view the image.

There are two things that will save you from infection.

1. Up to date anti-virus software.
2. An ISA Firewall.

New computer processors have built-in protection against this type of exploit. Anti-Virus software companies have released protection against it. If you have an ISA Firewall it can be configured to prevent the viewing of .wmf files.

At this point, we're not planning to make any changes to the networks that we manage. If, as sometimes happens, the exploit is improved upon and someone releases a new version that has a higher potential to infect a wider range of PC's then we'll take action to block the viewing of those files in the firewall settings. The reason we aren't doing this immediately is that doing so will noticeable hamper your website viewing capabilities and limit your ability to use clip art in internal documents as well.

As always be villigent. Check to be sure your anti-virus software is current. I'm sure some kiddies will be emailing out infected clip art files, in addition to placing the infected ones on websites. Stick to business related websites, only open attachments that you already know the contents of and you'll be fine.

Amy Babinchak
Harbor Computer Services


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