Famous last words: Our antivirus totally works

It takes an in-office infection to convince a client that upgrading its security measures is a good idea

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For our client, the virus originated from a business it had on retainer, through a document that had nothing to do with the business whatsoever. The virus had mailed the company an infected contract with the text, "Here's the document I told you about." Of course, the person opened it to investigate. When the worker couldn't figure out why it had come in, the employee closed it and forgot about it, but it was too late.

Cleaning up the mess

The virus wasn't terribly difficult to remove, but tracking down all of the outgoing emails was "fun." The client readily agreed to have us update the antivirus software and tighten up the firewall. As part of our (billed) cleanup process, we also secured written permission from our client to get in touch with the contacts who might have received an infected email. The client again readily agreed.

I wrote up a script that explained what had happened, taking care to make clear this was not a sales pitch. We called each contact on the phone and explained what was going on and what they needed to do to ensure they had not been infected.

A very few took us seriously and said they'd look into it. Some asked us to come over and look over their computers. Approximately 75 percent of them said, "Oh, we have antivirus software," and hung up. But out of the 75 percent, about half later contacted our client to admit that, yes, they too had been infected by the virus and proprietary information was being randomly mailed out.

In the end, the situation turned out well. The client's contacts appreciated the honesty. Some of them hired us to maintain their computer systems -- including updating their antivirus software. And the client took our recommendations more seriously from then on. This particular brick wall came down.

Send your own IT tale of managing IT, personal bloopers, supporting users, or dealing with bureaucratic nonsense to offtherecord@infoworld.com. If we publish it, we'll send you a $50 American Express Gift Cheque.

This story, "Famous last words: Our antivirus totally works," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more crazy-but-true stories in the anonymous Off the Record blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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