What is malware?
Malware is any kind of malicious software designed to do harm to a computer or information system or to steal data or personal information. Malware includes viruses, trojans, bots, spyware, and worms.
Wikipedia article on Malware
How do I get infected?
Malware can infect your computer in many ways. Below is a list of the most common ways malware can get on your computer.
- Spam emails containing attachments
- Hijacked websites
- Websites asking you to install software
- Pop-up advertisements made to look like a legitimate virus warning
- Advertisements informing you that you are infected, but telling you to download or purchase software to remove the infections
- Certain peer-to-peer downloads
How do I prevent an infection?
- Make sure your computer is up-to-date with critical security updates.
- Make sure you are running a valid and updated anti-virus program.
- Never open an email attachment that you were not expecting, even if it came from someone you know.
- Never trust a website to install software if you are unsure what it is or does.
- Never click on a pop-up advertisement.
- Only trust warnings about malware infections coming from your own anti-virus program.
How do I clean an infection?
The most effective way to be sure that you have fully cleaned an infection is to back up your data and completely reinstall your system. This is the only way to be 100% sure that the malware has been removed.
There are, however, many different pieces of software that can scan for and clean malware infections. The first scan you should run is your updated anti-virus software. The college provides McAfee VirusScan Enterprise to all students, faculty, and staff. You can download this software on campus (the link will only work on campus, but the software can easily be saved to a USB flash drive or burned to a CD). This software will update itself automatically everyday as long as it is connected to the Internet.
We also suggest running other software to clean malware infections. Many of these are free to download, but are not license for commercial use. This means that they cannot be installed on computers owned by the college. We are providing this information only for informational purposes. If you think your college-owned computer is infected, you should call the Helpdesk at 865-HELP (865-4357).
While we are providing this information, we cannot help you with the "ins and outs" of each of these programs. Please consult their individual websites if you have questions about them.