OU Help Desk

Kresge Library, Room 202
100 Library Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4479
(location map)
(248) 370-4357 (HELP)
Fax: (248) 370-4863
Office Hours: M-F 8:00am - 5:00pm

Help Desk Computer Virus Information

Computer Virus Prevention Tips

How to protect your desktop and laptop from computer viruses.

  1. Turn on Windows firewall and use the recommended automatic updates in Windows.
  2. Use an antivirus software for computer protection.  University computers are eligible for free Symantec Endpoint Protection software.
  3. Do not open email messages from unknown sources and do not click on any suspicious email or links.
  4. Make a strong password by combining letters, symbols and numbers and do not share passwords.
  5. Only download from trusted websites and only install software with authentic DVDs or CDs.
  6. Back-up critical data regularly.
  7. Online safety tips include keeping personal information private and check website security by looking at the URL address that should start with "https".

The best protection from viruses and malware starts with awareness.  Always use caution online and pay special attention to email attachments, links or downloads that you open.  Stay away from suspicious websites and install and maintain an updated antivirus program.

University employees should contact the Help Desk if they are using an Oakland University owned computer that is not currently running Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEP). The Help Desk will install the program for free and uses it to to assist with virus management  on campus.  Please call the Help Desk at (248) 370-4357 to schedule an installation today.

Students and faculty using campus network resources with personal laptops are strongly encouraged to install and maintain security protections such as personal firewalls and anti-virus software, e.g., Microsoft Security Essentials.

The two most common questions we receive at the Help Desk about computer infections are: "Who does these things?" and "How did this happen?"

  • The reasons vary why a software programmer might create these harmful programs; from simple pranks and experiments, to serious organized Internet crime, such as identity theft.
  • Computers are typically infected with a virus by clicking on a link or file that opens the malicious program which infects the computer.  Computers not protected with antivirus software are at greater risk.

Computer Virus Information

What is Malware?
The term Malware is short for malicious software and exists in forms that include viruses, worms, Trojan horses and other types of harmful software. These programs are used to disrupt computer operation, gather sensitive information, or gain access to your computer systems.

What is Spyware?
Spyware is a software program that is designed to collect user's activity and send the information back to a hacker. The software tracks personal or sensitive information and once installed is silent to avoid detection. Spyware can change the configuration of your computer and be difficult to remove. Typical spyware behavior is to change a web browser's home page or search page, or add additional components to your Internet browser. Spyware does not have any infection mechanisms.

More sophisticated forms of spyware allows the hacker to capture network data giving them access to network files, digital certificates, encryption keys and other sensitive information.

What is a Virus?
A computer Virus is a program that is loaded onto your computer without your knowledge and spread from one computer to another.  Viruses can be disguised as attachments such as greeting cards, or audio and video files, but cannot infect your computer unless you run or open the program. They can be hidden in files or programs that you download from the Internet. Viruses can replicate themselves and pose a danger to your computer or transmit itself across networks.

Unfortunately, no currently existing anti-virus software is able to catch all computer viruses. It is important to keep your anti-virus software updated to detect new virus infections.

What is a Virus Hoax?
A computer Hoax is a message that is received usually in an email message that warns a user of a fictional computer virus threat. Most Hoaxes are usually harmless in nature and exaggerate the ability of the virus. It will stress the urgent nature of the threat and encourage readers to forward the message to others.

Visit the McAfee and Symantec websites to see a comprehensive lists of virus hoaxes.

What is a Trojan Horse?
A Trojan is a type of malicious program designed to provide unauthorized, remote access to a user’s computer. Trojans are also known to create a backdoor on your computer that gives users access to your system, allowing confidential or personal information to be compromised. Trojan horses do not have the ability to replicate themselves like viruses.

When a Trojan is activated on your computer, the results can vary. Some Trojans are malicious and can cause serious damage by deleting files and destroying information on your system.

What is a Worm?
A worm is similar to a virus. Worms spread from computer to computer and has the ability to travel without any human action and can allow malicious users to control your computer remotely. A worm takes advantage of file or information transport features on your system.

A worm has the capability to replicate itself and could send out hundreds or thousands of copies of itself. An example would be to send a copy of itself to everyone listed in your e-mail address book, then replicate and send itself out to everyone listed in each of the receiver's address book, and the manifest continues on down the line.

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