Security / Viruses


Computers can be intimidating, and the more we hear about the “Dark Side” of computing the scarier it gets.There are several types of intrusions into our computers.  Below is a list of a few, including definitions so that they are more easily understood, and hopefully less daunting.

  1. Virus - A computer virus is a malware program that, when executed, replicates by inserting copies of itself (possibly modified) into other computer programs, data files, or the boot sector of the hard drive; when this replication succeeds, the affected areas are then said to be "infected". Computer viruses spread from machine to machine on disks or, more commonly, over the Internet.
  2. Malware - "Malware" is short for malicious software and used as a single term to refer to virus, spyware, worm etc. Malware is designed to cause damage to a standalone computer or a networked pc. So wherever a malware term is used it means a program which is designed to damage your computer it may be a virus, worm or Trojan.
  3. Trojan - A program that appears legitimate but performs some illicit activity when ran. It may be used to locate password information or make the system more vulnerable to future entry or simply destroy the user's stored software and data. A Trojan is similar to a virus, except that it does not replicate itself. Often sneaking in attached to a free game or other supposedly worthwhile utility, the Trojan remains in the computer doing damage or allowing someone from a remote location to take control.
  4. Worm - In a computer, a worm is a self-replicating virus that does not alter files but resides in active memory and duplicates itself. Worms use parts of an operating system that are automatic and usually invisible to the user. It is common for worms to be noticed only when their uncontrolled replication consumes system resources, slowing or halting other tasks. 
  5. Hacking - to circumvent security and break into (a network, computer, files, etc.), usually with malicious intent: Criminals hacked the bank's servers yesterday.  To modify (a computer program or electronic device) or write (a program) in a skillful or clever way: Developers have hacked the app. 
  6. Browser Hijacking - A browser hijacker (sometimes called hijack ware) is a type of malware program that alters your computer's browser settings so that you are redirected to Web sites that you had no intention of visiting.
  7. Backups – Simply, this is a copy of files.  This offers the best protection against any type of intrusion or malware into your computer.  Your files are the most important piece of that computer.  Everything else is easily replaceable. 

You can back up your files in several ways:

  • External hard drive - some come with backup software, but simply copying from one place to another works also.
  • Cloud
  • Flash drive
  • CD or DVD




University-Owned computers

Our computers, whether individually assigned or for public use, all have McAfee Anti-virus installed, both PC and Mac.  We also try to take advantage of some free apps like Malwarebytes, Super Anti-Spyware, or Windows-based apps like Windows Defender or Microsoft Essentials.

Personal computers: 

For personal computers where university licensing prevents sharing of certain applications, we find other programs to recommend:

For Mac: McAfee, Norton, AVG, Avast Antivirus
For PC: McAfee, Norton, AVG, Microsoft   Essentials


Many internet providers now offer free Anti-virus as part of their suite as well.  We are happy to help with install of any of this above-mentioned software.  These are all antivirus software that install on your computer, and continually scan it (usually automatically), both as you download (called On-Access Scanner) and on scheduled or manual scans.

NOTE*** anytime you download web-based software, please be aware that “riders” can be attached.  On most legitimate software, you can watch the screens during your installation for extras, like Toolbars or Search Engine homepages.  These usually have nothing to do with the software you are installing, and you can safely UN-check these boxes so that the extra “junk” is not installed.


Think you have a virus?? Here are some links you can download and install for yourself!!

These are both free programs, downloadable from the internet, that are really good at catching malware on your computer.  We here in the IT department use these the most.  On both of these pages, simply click on the link below, click the big green Download button, and follow the prompts as you install.  Pay close attention to the note below for Malwarebytes.


NOTE*** - When prompted to install trial edition, please UNcheck that box, as the program will constantly prompt you for payment afterwards.  The FREE Edition will be free, not ask for payment after 30 days.






Spam - Spam is the electronic equivalent of junk mail.  The term refers to unsolicited, bulk – and often unwanted – email.

Here are ways to reduce spam:

  • Enable filters on your email programs: Most ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and email providers offer spam filters. However, depending on the level you set, you may wind up blocking emails you want. It’s a good idea to occasionally check your junk folder to ensure the filters are working properly.
  • Report spam: Most email clients offer ways to mark an email as spam or report instances of spam.  Reporting spam will also help to prevent the messages from being directly delivered to your inbox.
  • Own your online presence: Consider hiding your email address from online profiles and social networking sites or only allowing certain people to view your personal information.
  • - See more at: stay-safe-online/keep-a-clean-machine/spam-and-phishing


Phishing - Phishing scams are typically fraudulent email messages appearing to come from legitimate enterprises (e.g., your university, your Internet service provider, your bank). These messages usually direct you to a spoofed website or otherwise get you to divulge private information (e.g., passphrase, credit card, or other account updates). The perpetrators then use this private information to commit identity theft.

  • One type of phishing attempt is an email message stating that you are receiving it due to fraudulent activity on your account, and asking you to "click here" to verify your information.


Phishing scams:  Are crude social engineering tools designed to induce panic in the reader. These scams attempt to trick recipients into responding or clicking immediately, by claiming they will lose something (e.g., email, bank account). Such a claim is always indicative of a phishing scam, as responsible companies and organizations will never take these types of actions via email.


Note*** This University will never ask for any information regarding your name, username, password or SSN in an email!!!  If you do receive an email asking for this information please contact the Help Desk immediately!