Computer Viruses Hit Some State Offices

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(Host) Like computer users everywhere, state government offices have been plagued by the recent wave of electronic viruses. The state defender general’s office was particularly hard hit.

VPR’s John Dillon reports.

(Dillon) The “Klez” virus infects computers through email messages. Virus protection companies say its one of the most widespread viruses ever developed.

Staff at the state defender general’s office, which represents people who can’t afford a lawyer, are sick and tired of Klez and other viruses. Defender General Matthew Valerio says disinfecting their computers has taken days away from an already busy work schedule:

(Valerio) “Well, people were able to work but as a practical matter it took people away from work for a few days while they were addressing these virus infestations.”

(Dillon) The defender’s office faces a serious budget squeeze and is making do with older computers. Valerio says the outdated equipment is part of the problem:

(Valerio) “Our hardware is old and our software is old and there are windows where this virus can come in through some of the older machines and the anti-virus software we have wasn’t picking it up.”

(Dillon) The email service for the state is not centralized, so some state agencies were harder hit than others. At the office of communications and information technology, Director William Laferriere says that anti-virus programs catch hundreds of the infections every day. But he says some offices are not well protected:

(Laferriere) “It depends on what they do for virus screening. Some departments have very good virus screening on the front end of their mail servers, others are not as good. We run a multiple signature virus screening application here and we’ve had real good results with that.”

(Dillon) Laferriere says state employees – like everyone else who relies on a computer – also need to constantly update their virus protection programs in order to catch the latest versions of the computer plagues.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon.

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