A computer “virus” is a program used to infect a computer. A computer “virus” frequently alters and/or erases critical files on a fixed disk or diskette. A computer virus may be resident on a fixed disk or diskette and go unnoticed for a period of time. During this time, it can be transmitted to other systems (usually by software copied from one system and loaded on another). The virus can go unnoticed because some viruses are written to corrupt files at a certain time in the future. A virus is only passed along when a program that contains one is executed on your computer. A virus cannot attach to data; they must attach to an executable program on a PC. For the virus to be activated, the program to which the virus has attached itself must be run. When the program is executed, the virus code is activated and attaches copies of itself to other programs in the computer. The virus may also be transferred to system memory and remain there until the system is powered off. Any program that is executed while the virus is in the system memory may become infected.
The majority of viruses that are contracted on personal computers are passed along through email messages. Others are passed via “hand-to-hand” exchange of software via a diskette. Also, virus infected programs are sometimes unintentionally transmitted via modem from public bulletin board services, online services, or the Internet. If you use software that has been downloaded copied from another computer, you may wish to obtain a virus-detection program.
For Windows Users, Microsoft offers it’s Security Essentials for FREE: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/products/security-essentials
Mac Users may want to consider Comodo’s Free Antivirus Program. http://www.comodo.com/home/internet-security/antivirus-for-mac.php
Any Premium Free or Pay for product is fine, just be sure you are running one with the latest definition updates.
The virus warning messages everyone has been receiving recently are simply “warning” messages! The actual infected email was destroyed before it ever got to you. The reason we send out these courtesy messages are so that faculty can tell when a student’s email was blocked, particularly when they were sending in an important assignment.
While OIT does an exceptional job by blocking 99.9% of viruses, it can not be expected to block ALL viruses. Likewise OIT can do nothing to protect you from your other “personal” email accounts, like your hotmail, netscape.net, aol, cfw, ntelos, etc. as they do not come through our Mary Baldwin server systems. Remember, most companies do not provide the level of virus protection that Mary Baldwin does for their email users.
This is why we keep saying that it’s IMPERATIVE for you maintain a current antivirus product on all computers you use (including home), and to make sure that you update the definition files at least weekly. The reason we are getting such a large influx of virus alerts (blocked messages) right now is because there are several student, staff, and faculty members whose home computers are infected and have out of date virus protection.
Simply call or contact the OIT helpdesk. If there is a jack problem we can repair it, although more often than not it’s a computer software issue.
This is generally the user’s preference. Both internet browsers have their pros and cons. If you feel more comfortable using one over the other, then stick with it. What we do recommend is that you make sure to keep up to date with the latest version as to avoid security problems.
Unfortunately – YES! We know of a case where a student gained access to a faculty member’s computer and sent e-mail asking about grades changes to the Registrar. Now this case turned out to be nothing. The student clearly
identified herself and made no attempt to pretend to be the faculty member. But the email address on the message the Registrar received looked like it was coming from the faculty member.
Additionally, several years ago one of the Computer Science Discipline’s Web Servers was successfully
attacked by a remote Hacker. The compromised server was severely defaced with very lewd comments and graphics. In typical fashion, trojan software was also installed during that attack, and the server had to be shutdown permanently.
We’ve also seen evidence of password cracking programs and network “sniffer’s” being run on our network, as well as
various hacker’s software, such as Back Orifice, and SubSeven installed and running on student’s machines. OIT constantly monitors the network for signs of attack, but every line of security is man-made. That means every line of security can usually be broken.
A firewall is a device (hardware or software) that helps secure a computer or network of computers. Firewalls allow certain network traffic to pass through while blocking others. Network firewalls are modeled after building firewalls – a wall that prevents or delays structural fires from spreading to adjacent buildings. In the same way,
a networking firewall contains or delays bad data and traffic from flowing into a network or a personal computer. Mary Baldwin uses firewalls to prevent bad data from reaching our network. Installing a firewall on your personal machine can be a good idea, but some problems can occur as well. If you are unfamiliar with firewalls, we recommend that you learn more about them before trying to set one up. While firewall’s primary purpose is to block bad data, sometimes it can block GOOD data as well depending on how the firewall is configured. Keep this in mind as you decide on installing a firewall. Windows XP and Vista both come with firewalls already installed as a part of the operating system and can be accessed through the Control Panel.
Spyware is software that, when installed, can track your personal information, slow down your machine and even interfere and takeover control of your computer. Spyware is often spread through user deception; appearing as pop-up advertisements or other means in order to get the user to install the program. The programs will often claim to be helpful tools to make your internet browsing easier, optimize your network speed or provide better searching. The program will then run monitoring and other malicious software that the user does not see. There are antispyware programs free to download that can search your computer for known spyware and remove it. We recommend Spybot Search and Destroy (http://www.safer-networking.org/) and Lavasoft’s AdAware (http://www.lavasoftusa.com/).
To protect your computer from unauthorized use, you should implement passwords to protect your system. Many users
don’t realize that the Windows 9x operating systems “Logon” screen can be easily by-passed by simply hitting the ESC key. To secure your computer, you should implement a BIOS or “Power On” password as well as a screen saver password.
To create a screen saver password in windows, simply right click on the desktop, and choose properties. From the Dialog box, select the Screen Saver tab. Here you can choose your screen saver, and check the “password protected” box. Be sure to set the wait/inactivity time to a relatively low value, like 10 minutes.
BIOS or “Power On” password setups vary by computer manufacturer. You will need to refer to your PC’s documentation to set this up. Don’t forget your password or you will not be able to get into your own computer.
New viruses are being discovered daily! At present, there are over 70,000 virus / worm variants! Most of these new viruses are designed specifically to bypass all current anti-virus products. These products all rely upon “Definition Files” or “Signatures” to determine if a file is a virus or not, so they must be constantly updated in order to recognize the newer viruses varieties that have been recently discovered. -virus products. These products all rely upon “Definition Files” or “Signatures” to determine if a file is a virus or not, so they must be constantly updated in order to recognize the newer viruses varieties that have been recently discovered.
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