Whenever you are using your computer on the Internet, it is very important that you practice safe computing techniques to prevent your computer from getting infected with malware. Malware is a type of software that can perform a hostile or intrusive act on your computer. This affects all type of computers, including Apple computers. While there was a time that Apple computers did not get infected, it was because of market share and not technology. All types of computers, including tablets and smartphones, are susceptible to getting infected with malware.
Rowan University uses Symantec Endpoint Protection as its licensed anti-virus/malware solution. Click here for more information.
There are several different categories of malware and the amount of damage malware can do ranges from being a nuisance to opening up your computer so that a hacker can access personal information, such as passwords to bank accounts and shopping sites.
The most benign form of malware is called adware. Adware will place advertising on your computer that will appear as pop-ups when using an Internet browser or while installing a program. Adware has opened the doors to a newer type of malware called ransomware. Ransomware will place a program on your computer that will run and that you will not be able to exit out of. The makers of this particular type of malware will then ask you to pay for its removal. Often, the makers will then use this information to steal your credit card information or your identity.
Another form of malware is called spyware. Spyware puts a program on your computer that will send passwords and other information from your computer to unnamed sites with the goal of stealing your information. Trojan horse viruses and worm viruses are also used to collect data and replicate themselves to pass to other machines via email or Internet sites.
The final type of malware to be aware of is not so much a virus but a scam known as phishing. Phishing schemes play on emotions to try to get you to send your information to the scammer through an email or website. These schemes may directly steal your information or may be used as a vehicle to install other types of malware on your computer. We have seen several types of these attacks on Rowan’s campus in the past several years via emails that appeared to come from genuine senders, such as banks like Wells Fargo or major retailers like Macy’s or Amazon.
Malwarebytes & SuperAntiSpyware
You can help make sure that your computer is clean by running programs that search exclusively for malware and remove it. IRT uses two different programs: Malwarebytes and SuperAntiSpyware. These programs are run several times to clean all malware from a machine. These programs work in conjunction with anti-virus software as they actively search for different forms of malignant software. It is important to note, however, that you should not run more than one anti-virus program, such as Trend and Symantec, at the same time. Doing so will cause your machine to run very slowly as both software programs will be actively scanning the same parts of your machine at the same time.
In addition to using anti-virus and anti-malware programs, there are several things you can do while using your computer to help prevent getting infected with malware. First, be aware of the websites that you visit. File sharing sites and sites that allow you to illegally watch movies are ripe with contaminated programs that may infect your computer. If you are asked to download a program, make sure that you know the source of that program. If you are not sure, use Google to search the site you are visiting. Google, or other search engines such as Yahoo or Bing, do a good job of letting you know the validity of the site.
Also, do not open an email from an unknown source or sender. To check the source of a sender, you can check the email's header. The header contains information on the sender and the servers that it is sent from. Different programs have different ways of checking the headers, so please consult your email provider's help files. In Microsoft Exchange web access, for example, click on the “More Actions” button (ellipses located next to the forward button) and then click “View Message Details.”
Another simple technique to protect yourself while online is checking the web address of any link you might wish to open. This is especially effective when dealing with phishing scams. Simply float your mouse above a link on a web page. This will display the web address that link will open on the bottom of the browser. Make sure the link is going where you think it should.
One of the most important steps to keeping your computer clean is to regularly update your operating system and software. Also, while doing this, make sure you pay attention to what those programs are installing on your computer. Updates to Internet plug-ins, such as Java, can install other programs that you might want to avoid. In the case of Java, the Ask toolbar is installed.
As with anything, the best way to prevent your machine from being infected with malware is diligence. Also remember that no member of the Information Resources & Technology staff will ever ask you for your password. If your password is ever needed to assist you, we will ask you to change to a temporary password that can quickly be changed to complete your work. If you need to update your Rowan password, please visit http://id.rowan.edu.