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    Monday, August 31, 2009

    Re: Antivirus on systems connected to the WVLS WAN

    Computer Antivirus usage and policies can be a touchy issue. For perspective I look to its counterpart in the realm of human health and physiology: vaccination.

    Many of you may be aware of the ongoing debate over pros and cons of infant and child vaccination. Some people say "Vaccination is good because of this or that", some people say "Vaccination is bad because of that or this", and in the background is one or more levels of government, mandating vaccinations for various reasons based on some mystical (probably not but I like that word) collection of information and statistics and history. The government agencies are looking at the communities, regions, states, countries that they are responsible for and doing their best to answer the question, "what is the best comprehensive solution that we can implement and enforce, to protect as many people as possible?" I won't turn this into a debate forum on that subject but the correlation is referred to provide a basis for understanding my perspective on antivirus. I'm kind of like that [insert level here] government agency.

    Almost every debate has at least two sides ... think about that ... chuckle ... OK I'll continue. And almost every side of a really timeless debate has solid examples of why that side is "right". I've heard almost every concern there is about antivirus from both sides over the past 12 years, I've advocated on both sides of the debate depending on my role at the time, and I still don't know what's "right". There is an important aspect of my new role at WVLS which I will continually be trying to direct attention to, and that is protecting our "community" as a whole; a community of WAN members who all share access to a common resource and likewise, all share a common susceptibility to PC and network traversing threats. I will be keeping that perspective in mind as long as I sit in the "hot" seat of Network Admin.

    That said, a community is made up of individuals, and each individual experiences the benefits and drawbacks of membership in different ways. I am always hoping to learn about the impacts of any "community" level project that are perceived by even a single individual as negative. We're brought up to believe that one can't please everyone. That may be true, but I refuse to let it be simply for lack of effort. I will do my best to help mitigate the negative experiences in every project, starting with the ARRoW - Antivirus Really Required on WAN (No one said I had to be good at naming things) - initiative I will be proposing soon. I've gotten some good feedback and am working on understanding the causes of the reported speed issues along with some potential solutions.

    Bottom line: Antivirus and Antimalware in general are important tools on today's connected networks. The reasons they exist, people who create viruses for fun or profit, are only getting more prolific and more clever (word wants me to use ‘cleverer’ but I refuse). A requirement for antivirus to be active on all computers exposed to the WVLS WAN will be coming down the pipes, and I'd like to hear your ideas on the matter.


    1. Hey...I thought it was already a requirement to have antivirus software on all the machines on the WAN? But I'm all for it being "Really Required" in the sense that we may need to show proof of our vaccination. I'm in full support of "community mindedness" (is that a word?) in relation to the WAN. Good luck!

    2. No significant comment, but I'll offer a bit of trivia. Raggedy Ann creator Johnny Gruelle's daughter died after receiving a small pox vacination given at school, without parental permission. Raggedy Ann became a symbol for the anti-vaccination movement.