Virus and Malware

Antivirus software is one of the most important tools for safe-guarding your computer, vital information, and personal data from the daily onslaught of viruses and worms. Without antivirus protection, your computer may be left completely defenseless against perpetrators' relentless attemps. Antivirus software is available from ITS at not cost to all CU-Boulder faculty, staff and students work and/or personal use.

Is Your Computer Feeling a Little Vulnerable?

Antivirus software is one of the most important tools in protecting your computer and personal information from viruses and worms. When it comes to technology and security, computers are quite similar to houses. Most people would not leave their doors and windows wide open, exposing their residences to complete strangers. Yet, why are computers often left open and unsecured, virtually welcoming viruses to sneak in the front door or window?

As a UCCS student or faculty or staff member, acquiring and using antivirus software to secure your computer is as easy as locking a door, all at no cost to you. Visit http://www.uccs.edu/~helpdesk/antivirus.htm for more information on how easy it is to protect yourself.

But, remember, your virus protection is only as effective as its last update. New viruses appear all the time (industry experts estimate that there are currently more than 50,000 viruses in existence and approximately 200 discovered each month). If your antivirus software isn't current, the latest viruses or worms can sneak in. Thus, updating antivirus scanner definitions is a crucial part of keeping your computer safe from viruses and worms. This process will keep your scanner up-to-date, so it will be able to detect the most recent virus or worm. Antivirus automatically checks for antivirus engine updates when virus definitions are updated.

There are currently more than 50,000 viruses in existence and 200 viruses are discovered each month, it's recommended you update your software at least once a month.

Antivirus software is especially useful for scanning attachments and links within e-mail messages. E-mail offers many opportunities for security problems and should not be considered secure. Malicious web sites can install software on your computer or collect personal information from your computer. Be wary of e-mail attachments and web downloads that you do not know anything about. It is actually very easy for a computer virus to be present in e-mail from anyone, including your parents, best friends, or colleagues. It is strongly suggested that antivirus software be used to scan anything that you receive in your e-mail.

One of the main problems with viruses or worms is they can go undetected, especially if you are not running an antivirus program which would catch the intruders immediately. Below are some key signs that your computing system may be infected by a virus or worm, and what to do to solve the problem:

Signs that your system might be infected or compromised

  • Your system shuts down spontaneously and frequently, even if you don't use it
  • Your Internet connection slows to a crawl even while you are not doing anything significant
  • Your virus scanner crashes and cannot be started again
  • You are no longer able to visit antivirus sites
  • Your hard disk fills up and you can't find the files that use up all the disk space
  • Your computer seems to be displaying an inability to start (boot up) or taking longer than normal to start up
  • Your computer is exhibiting unpredictable program behavior
  • Strange graphics appear on your screen

What to do when your system has been compromised

  • Contact the IT Help Desk. The IT Help Desk will provide information on how to remediate your system. In many cases the only way to be certain that your system can not be used by an attack is to reinstall the system.
  • Change passwords on any computer you use.

For more information on antivirus, software downloads, and daily use tips, visit http://www.uccs.edu/~helpdesk/antivirus.htm

Tech Talk

Viruses

A virus is a computer program intentionally written and released to spread across computers and networks and disrupt your computing experience. These bad-mannered programs come to your PC through e-mail, the Internet, downloaded files, and files you open on a CD. Viruses typically work by attaching themselves to another program on your PC, and do not infect the computer until the program runs. The old "traditional" viruses usually require human interaction (you have to run it, save it, share it; you e-mail a program or document without knowing it's infected). Viruses typically just attach themselves to programs and documents and then depend on humans to propagate. This is changing...

Worms

A worm is similar to a program but doesn't need to attach itself to another program to run. Worms, a sub-class of viruses, are replicated automatically without human help (like an e-mail address book attack). Worms can bog down networks and web sites. And, the scary part is that you don't have to do anything but turn your computer on!

Trojans

A Trojan poses as a legitimate program but is designed to disrupt computing on the PC it infects. It is not designed to spread to other computers.

Backdoor Trojans

This type of code allows other computer users to gain access to your computer across the Internet.