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- Viruses and Malware
- About Exeter IT
Virus and malware protection
If you do not protect your computer against viruses and malware you can lose your own work and cause major problems for yourself and for other network users.
The Anti-malware Policy requires that all computers connected to the University network (including ResNet) must have a working anti-virus program. It is important to remember the purpose of an anti-virus product. It is not there to replace your assessment as to whether you should allow a particular source on the web to access the information held on your computer, to decide which applications to install, whether you trust the developer, or whether you allow an application to do certain things. It is there to provide another layer of defence and to assist with preventing the spread of malicious activities.
The Keep IT safe webpage provides information about malware and what you should do to avoid it. If you access University systems from a mobile device, please also read our security tips for users of smartphones and iPads.
The following sections provide information about the anti-virus software that is available for University owned staff computers and for privately owned computers, and list recommended general security precautions.
University owned staff PCs
Staff computers should have anti-virus software installed when the computer is set up. Academic Services supplies Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEP) for Windows PCs and Apple Macs. There is no charge for installing this software on a University owned computer. Symantec Endpoint Protection protects against malware such as viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware, adware and rootkits. Updates are delivered automatically. Please contact the IT Help Desk if you have any enquiries about SEP.
Privately owned staff computers
The licence with Symantec allows University staff to install Symantec or Norton AntiVirus (as appropriate) on one privately owned computer. The software must be removed from the computer when you cease to be a member of the University.
Staff can obtain a free copy by contacting the IT Help Desk.
Privately owned student computers running Microsoft Windows
Newly purchased computers often have a trial version of anti-virus software installed. You will usually be given the option of purchasing this software before it expires.
For privately owned computers Academic Services recommends the use of Microsoft Security Essentials. The latest version of Microsoft Security Essentials is available, as a free download for PCs running genuine Windows, from http://www.microsoft.com/security_essentials
You will need an internet connection to download this software.
Before downloading and installing the software you should remove any existing anti-virus software from your computer. This should be done even if the existing software is out of date. Failure to do this may result in Microsoft Security Essentials, or even your computer, not working correctly.
The support section on http://www.microsoft.com/security_essentials provides information on removing old software, installing Microsoft Security essentials, scanning your computer and fixing threats when detected.
Privately owned student computers running Mac OS X
Macs do not tend to be targeted by malware as often as Windows PCs, but they are not immune to malware and Trojans. This Unix-based operating system does have flaws and there have been attacks, including some targeting add-on software used to increase the functionality of OS X or Safari. Macs have some built-in functionality to assist with the security of your data, such as sandboxing, anti-phishing technology and a scanner that will check whether downloads include hidden applications. There is a personal firewall that you should enable. However, no system can be 100% immune from every threat so we recommend using an anti-virus product such as iAntivirus from Norton or ClamXav, both of which are available in the Mac App Store. If you run Windows on your Mac you should install Microsoft Security Essentials on the Windows drive.
You can reduce the risk of getting viruses and spyware by taking simple steps to increase your computer’s security:
- Keep your operating system (‘OS’) updated – all manufacturers release regular updates to fix security problems found with their software.
- Install anti-virus software and keep the virus definitions up to date.
- Make sure your firewall is activated – this can prevent viruses from spreading and in some cases can help prevent spyware distributing information found on your computer.
- Consider whether your normal daily activities can run under a non-administrator account. If you share your Windows PC or Mac with other members of your household, make sure that everyone has a standard user account for everyday activities and that the administrator account is only available to someone with suitable skills. Ensure that all accounts are password protected.
- Depending on which web browser you use:
- Consider disabling third-party cookies in order to prevent data leakage (eg the tracking of your browsing habits, which could then be useful to advertisers). Similarly, consider enabling the 'do not track' functionality in your browser, which some websites observe on a voluntary basis.
- Consider disabling scripts. This will impact your browsing and you will have to decide on a site by site basis whether you wish to have certain interactive functionality temporarily or permanently, but it will ensure that malware is not active on your machine without you knowing.
- Regularly review what add-ons are installed in your browser and whether they should be updated or remain enabled.
- Consider blocking pop-up windows.
If you have any queries, please contact the IT Help Desk.