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Advice needed

Marteknet
Grafter
Posts: 577
Registered: 13-10-2007

Advice needed

Can viruses access hard drives if they are not mounted and disabled in bios?

Here's my set up I have three harddrives, two connected via the IDE channel these are configured to two partitions each, the third harddrive is connected via the onboard hardware raid in IDE mode not Raid. This usually is not enabled in bios unless I am doing a backup of the two main drives to it.

Is this a safe way to keep backups ?

Any advice would be helpful. Thanks in advance

Peter.
6 REPLIES
N/A

Virus Concerns

Hi Peter,

OK you havent said which operating system your currently using and as far as virus infection goes this is one of the important factors (I'm guessing here but if your using windows then the vast majority of virus's,worms,email scipts or malicous scripts or trojens are written for this OS as it has historically been the OS with the greatest number of vulnerabilities and so the easiest to attack).

**How you have your HDD's configured such as IDE channles, SCSI or SATA or RAID etc is NOT at all important when it comes to virus infection. What does matter is the avenue of access to your hard drives bye any potential virus.

**What do you mean by mounted are you talking here of windows2000 or XP or some other OS. Unmounted drives are NOT accessible by the OS and so cannot be read from or written too. Or only when the drive has been remounted and is seen by the OS and can read/written to is it vulnerable once again.

**The bottom line as far as my own experience goes is that if the drive is active i.e. can be read from or written too then its potentially infectable.

**What matters is access methods and these havent changes much since viruses started to appear over 30 years ago now . 1) the old 3.5 floppy disk 2) CD media but pretty rare but still possible 3) Downloaded programs or utilities in the form of freeware or shareware or games, which look legit but have been infected some how. 4) Spyware, Adware or Malware again usually downloaded 5) Email attachments which account for the major means of infection these days. 6) New software from the makers (pretty rare but still possible).

**The bios being infected by a virus I think is possible but extremely unlikley and its pretty rare now a days, anyway if the bios was to be infected your system would be mashed and rendered useless.

**The biggest thread to your HDD would be boot sector viruses I would think.

**In terms of making backup's the most important thing is that you have a good anti virus program and that you scan your drives frequently and so ensure that any backup's made are then also free from infection.

Question:
Quote
Can viruses access hard drives if they are not mounted and disabled in bios?
ANS=NO!


Ivan
Marteknet
Grafter
Posts: 577
Registered: 13-10-2007

Advice needed

Hi Ivan.

Wow that was a swift reply.

I am running Windows 2000 pro. The backup harddrive is kept turned off in bios never seen by windows. I backup using PCDOS after enabling the drive in bios and then boot direct to PCDOS. I then disable to drive after backup is finished before rebooting to windows. So even though the drive is kept physically connected windows never sees it. But as viruses are becoming ever more devious I was concerned that some may still be able to access the drive via bios or some other route.

All files are scanned for viruses during downloading and again before being opened. Virus signatures and Windows are updated daily.

Peter
N/A

Advice needed

The only thing to remember is that while a virus cannot access a drive that is not visible to the operating system when you do your backup the drive is visable.
Now most viruses are probably written for windows so wouldn't know how to work in PCDOS, so your probably safe there.
But depending on what you back up, you could be backing up any virus that has gotten through, so should you need to restore from your backup, you will probably restore the virus too.
N/A

Backup Paranoia

Hi martek,

Wow!! I think your approach to making backup's might be a tad extreme or your data must be worth millions of ££££HuhHuh? or perhaps this is a mild case of that rare syndrome called backup paranoia??

To be honest with you, joking aside all I can tell you is that in over 15 years of IT and computer use both in small buiness use and large scale corporate IT system use. I've personally never come across anyone who's backup's got virus infected. I think using PCDOS and disabling within the bios is frankly OTT.

*You might say you can never be too carefull but in my opinion provided you take reasonable steps such as regular anti virus & or anti adware scanning of your drives then the risks of infection can be highly reduced and the chances of your backup's also being infected are small too. The only reason I can think of that you want to have such extreme measures is a bad past experience which then would explain your motives.

**Also just to tell you that I've been using computers & windows since 1989 and I've never personally had an infected backup nor ever made an infected backup for a paying client. And I've seen lots of disasters in my time but not infected backups.

**I'm NOT saying its not possible but the chances I think remain small if you take simple normal measures to block or stop or remove viruses. Most virus infection 95% or more is down to user bahviour in the end.

Ivan
Marteknet
Grafter
Posts: 577
Registered: 13-10-2007

Advice needed

Sadly that not been my experience, I lost my complete system a few weeks back, even the latest backups, they were on a DVD-RW as well. I update anti virus signatures and windows every day & virus scan weekly. All emails are scanned and internet explorer is scanned as well. I now have a backup system I think may be near bullet proof.

The strange thing about the loss of the system last time is that I never open a file without scanning it first. So I still have no idea how this happened but know it took days to get everything re-installed and running again. I had to revert to my program CD's and reinstall as new, it was a bit of a job emailing for reg keys. So this time I'm taking no chances I am even going to backup the backup drive to DVD-R. it could save me hour and hours of work in the long run.

Thanks to everyone for the advice.
N/A

Advice needed

Hello again martek,

I'm sorry to hear your sad tale of loosing your system recently, & I do know just how painfull that kind of experience can be (been there got the TSHIRT as it were!!) but what I would say to you from a professional point of view is that as you DONT KNOW what caused the loss of your system dont assume it was a virus as you may well be barking up the wrong tree when it comes to the root cause?? How do you know it wasnt a hardware problem or an electrical problem or even a software problem, the possible number of causes are massive. And the facts are you DONT know so dont assume it was a virus to begin with.

**Again please could I make a recommendation to you again from past experience. A very safe & reliable method for making good quality backup's is with the tool that comes with Windows2000 and also XP (this is based on the well known program called Backup Exec I think it used to be made by Seagate but its now built into windows).

I have had to use this tool in anger and when I had to restore my entire system from backup's I had made about a month before it worked perfectly. XP also now comes with ASR (automatic or automated system restore) No! having to re-install from orginal CD's and no! I didnt have to try to find the reg keys etc.

**As I run my system as a server and as it runs 24/7 I have windows backup my entire system every night when I'm in bed I also made a monthly ASR set, so I can restore my entire system back to where it was yesturday at worst.

**I make all my backup's to an enternal USB hard disk drive (external storage) this drive also runs 24/7. Restoring from this media is extremely quick I had my system back up and working in less than 20mins and I have alot of software & utils installed (so it would be a days work without good backups).

**I would recommend an external USB hard disk drive too you as a more vaible backup medium than DVD-RW or CD-RW or CD-R. External HDD prices are pretty reasonable now too. Have a look at either La Cie or Freecom or Maxstore.

Ivan