Malicious Software

Stopping malware requires several actions on your part.

Always run an antivirus program on your computer. That includes you too, Mac and Linux users. Everyone is Malicious Software on a Notebook Computersusceptible to malware. Oregon State University provides everyone, employees and students, with a high quality antivirus program.  Click on the Free Stuff link on the left to get a copy and install it on your computer.

You’ll recall that some malware programs take advantage of flaws in programs to get onto a computer. To overcome this risk, it is vital that you keep all the programs on your system up-to-date.

One of the most common ways to get infected is to do a search and, clicking through the search results, visit a website that is either malicious or contains an infected advertisement. Sometimes it is obvious--the URL just looks wrong--but most of the time, at a glance, you’d never know there was anything wrong with the site. There are tools to help you with this.  One such tool, called Web-of-Trust shows good sites with a green circle and bad sites with a red one from your search results. A link is provided in our Free Stuff section.

Now we have to be brutally honest with you here. Even if you do everything that we’ve suggested so far to stop malware, chances are that eventually you will still get infected. There’s simply too much malware out there, and some of it is very, very cleverly designed.

There is another thing you can do to prevent malware from getting onto your computer. It is, by far, the best single thing you can do to prevent your computer from being compromised. What is it?

Don’t use an account that has administrative rights for daily activities on your computer.

If you do use an account that has those rights, it is time to start a discussion about getting rid of those rights and adding a second account that has those rights instead. You can then use this account when you need to install programs.

Ah. It may have just dawned on you why this is so important. You need to be an administrator to install certain types of programs, including the worst kinds of malware.

If you happen to use information classified as Protected, you do not have a choice. University policy requires that you do not use an account that has administrative rights for daily activities on your system. Please check with your computer support personnel to make sure you are in compliance with the policy.

We’d encourage everyone, to do this. Students—and employees for your personal machines—do this too. It makes a big difference.