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Information Security

Cyber Awareness Items


Tips to keep your computer virus-free.


Gone are the carefree days when people used the Internet just for gathering information and sending emails. Millions of people worldwide today are using the Internet to learn, research, create, design, shop, buy, bank, invest, play games, download movies and music, re-connect with old friends, meet new people, and do many other activities. Although cyberspace is an exciting environment with a myriad of benefits, opportunities, and conveniences, it is also an increasingly risky one, with numerous new threats emerging everyday. This is where anti-virus comes into play. Protect your computer.

Keep Your Computer Virus-Free

  • Install a free anti-virus download and anti-spyware. All current SCU faculty, staff, and students can download “Sophos Endpoint Security and Control” antivirus for free at the SCU IT site.

  • Use a firewall. No Internet connection is safe without one. Firewalls are necessary even if you have a dial-up Internet connection — it takes only minutes for a non-firewalled computer to be infected.

  • Keep your anti-virus software up-to-date. You should check for new definition updates daily. If possible, opt for your anti-virus software to automatically install new virus definitions to your computer.

  • Install security patches. Vulnerabilities in software are constantly being discovered and they don't discriminate by vendor or platform. Make sure to check for updates and update your computer and all the software you use at least once a month.

  • Make anti-virus scans routine. Run a full virus scan once a week to pick up on any viruses, worms, spyware, or other threats.

  • Utilize spam blocking or filtering tools to block unsolicited emails or messages. While spam can sometimes just be commercial junk mail, spam messages can sometimes contain viruses or worms.

  • Don't open unknown e-mail attachments or emails from unknown sources. One of the most common ways people wind up with a computer virus is by downloading an infected attachment from an email. Make sure you recognize the email sender.

  • Don't open any suspicious attachments or hyperlinks, regardless of who sent you the message. Remember that most worms and Trojan-laden spam try to spoof the sender's name. Reading email in plain text also offers important security benefits that more than offset the loss of pretty colored fonts.

  • Avoid clicking on pop-up ads. Pop-up ads can install a spyware download or adware on your computer, putting your personal information at risk.

  • Avoid peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing websites to ensure the best anti-virus protection. In addition to the possible legal ramifications of sharing copyrighted materials, many of these downloadable files - and sometimes the P2P programs themselves - are infected with viruses, spyware, worms and Trojans, and every other form of malicious code imaginable. There's no such thing as safe anonymous file sharing. Avoid it like the plague.
  • Secure your browser. Many labor under the dangerous misconception that only Internet Explorer is a problem. It's not the browser you need to be concerned about. Nor is it a matter of simply avoiding certain 'types' of sites. Known, legitimate websites are frequently being compromised and implanted with malicious JavaScript that foists malware onto visitors' computers. To ensure optimum browsing safety, the best tip is to disable JavaScript for all but the most essential of sites -- such as your banking or regular ecommerce sites. Not only will you enjoy safer browsing, you'll be able to eliminate unwanted pop-ups as well.
  • Don't fall victim to virus hoaxes. Dire-sounding email spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt about non-existent threats serve only to spread needless alarm and may even cause you to delete perfectly legitimate files in response.

Additional Note

Remember, there's far more good than bad on the Internet. The goal isn't to be paranoid. The goal is to be cautious, aware, and even suspicious. By following the tips above and becoming actively engaged in your own security, you'll not only be protecting yourself, you'll be contributing to the protection and betterment of the Internet as a whole.