Document Locator versus Computer Threats

One of the things that I’ve learned about ColumbiaSoft’s Document Locator is that, in terms of computer viruses and threats, it’s a very safe place to store files—and thank goodness, because when you have documents that you need to store in a document management system, they’re pretty important.

I started looking into all of this in the first place because I ran into a statement that Scott Zieg (our lead projects and services guru here at ColumbiaSoft) made on ColumbiaSoftConnect.com about how files on Document Locator are secure: “Documents stored directly in the SQL Server database are protected from virus and malware spreading among other documents in the system.”

I’ll admit freely that I’m not too great at troubleshooting IT-type problems. I’m a Millennial, so sit me down with some new software, and access to Google, and I can generally find my way around it inside of an hour, tops. I know how stuff works…but I don’t know why it works, and when it stops working, then I’m really stuck. I can go as far as Google can take me—until it starts giving me the code to fix things, and I’m like, yeah, no. Not my bag.

So when I started doing some research into why Document Locator did such a great job of keeping files safe from threats, I was surprised (and scared) by the sheer volume and ferocity of the threats that are out there lurking, just waiting to kill my computer, and take my information. This video on YouTube I’ve added goes over some of the highlights, but it doesn’t really talk about the numbers, or what all these different kinds of things can do. I’m glad—I’d like to be able to sleep at night, and I don’t think visual reinforcement would help me calm down about it.

Now that I’d scared myself silly by doing some research into the kinds of threats that are out there that could target files, I needed to get some more information about why storing files in Document Locator (on a SQL Server database) was so effective. So, I stuck my head out of my office, and hollered down the hallway if Scott had a few minutes I could take up. (Actually, I was much more polite. I sent an email, and used “please” and “thank you,” and everything. Don’t get the wrong idea about my office etiquette—just my sense of humor.)

Scott told me that there are really two reasons why keeping your files in Document Locator keeps them really well protected from computer threats. 1) They’re protected by being stored in fields in SQL Server, which means the virus can’t see them, and 2) when a virus is put into SQL Server, it goes “dormant,” and can’t infect other files from there.

We had to pause here, and Scott had to give me a little more background on how computer viruses and threats work. A computer virus will use a computer’s operating system to move around. A virus will move from file to file, climbing up or down a tree structure, marauding and pillaging as it goes, and doing its best to infect everything on your local hard drive.

Now, SQL Server is something special. It doesn’t store files the same way that your local drive, or your network does—it stores them as fields. So a virus, which knows how to look for files, doesn’t even know that there’s a directory full of fields sitting there—it just passes them right on by. Computer viruses literally can’t see files that are stored in Document Locator, because our backend database is Microsoft SQL Server.

Even if you accidentally pull an infected file into Document Locator, the virus won’t get the other documents saved there, for the same reason—files are saved into fields on a SQL Server table—they aren’t files. So, as Scott put it to me, it’s like putting a germ in a glass bottle. The germ won’t die, but it won’t spread, either. It doesn’t have anything that it can latch onto, and grow from. It can’t infect any of the fields that are sitting adjacent to it, because a computer virus isn’t designed to get fields—it’s designed to get files. A generalization, but that’s essentially what it comes down to. Ideally, the next time you pull out an infected file, your local virus scanner will catch it, but while it’s in Document Locator, it isn’t poisoning the files that you have stored there.

This means that keeping your documents in Document Locator keeps them safe. It doesn’t matter if a virus attacks your network, or your personal computer connected to your company’s wi-fi, or if you import an infected file—it won’t damage, steal, or delete the files that you have stored in Document Locator. Just another piece of evidence that demonstrates that the best defense is a good offense; Document Locator just happens to be a very impressive offense.

 

 

 

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