Computer Viruses

What is a computer virus?

A computer virus or malware is a commonly used term to describe all types of malicious software including Trojans, worms, adware, and spyware. Each have slightly different functions, but usually either try and damage the software on your computer, or send information about your computer usage to an outside source over the internet. The details of each type are explained below:

Types of computer viruses


A Trojan, as the name suggests, pretends to be something good, like virus scanning software or other useful applications. In reality they run malicious programs in the background that can perform any number of functions, like allowing an outside user to copy your files, see your browsing history, or even take remote control of your computer.


A computer worm is a self-replicating computer program. It uses a network to send copies of itself to other computers on the network, and it may do so without any user intervention. Unlike a virus, it does not need to attach itself to an existing program. Worms almost always cause at least some harm to the network, if only by consuming bandwidth, whereas viruses almost always corrupt or devour files on a targeted computer.


Adware or advertising-supported software is any software package which automatically plays, displays, or downloads advertisements to a computer after the software is installed on it or while the application is being used. Adware is usually seen by the developer as a way to recover development costs, and in some cases it may allow the software to be provided to the user free of charge or at a reduced price. As a result, the advertisements may be seen by the user as interruptions, annoyances or as distractions from the task at hand.


Spyware is computer software that is unknowingly installed on a personal computer to collect information about a user, their computer or browsing habits without the user's informed consent. Spyware programs can collect various types of personal information, such as Internet surfing habits and sites that have been visited, but can also interfere with user control of the computer in other ways, such as installing additional software and redirecting Web browser activity. Spyware is known to change computer settings, resulting in slow connection speeds, different home pages, and/or loss of Internet or functionality of other programs.

How can my computer become infected?

Unfortunately, there are many ways your computer can become infected. Some of the main causes to an infected computer included: illegally downloading music and movies, clicking on ads, browsing to compromised websites, and in general not being cautious when it comes to web browsing. Be sure to follow the safe browsing habits and remember, it's always better to be safe then to be sorry.

What are the symptoms of a virus?

There is a wide variety of virus symptoms that differ based on what type of infection you have and how far the virus has progressed. A list of common symptoms is listed below:

How can I protect myself?

How can I scan and remove a virus infection?

The first order of business is to get anti-virus software. Students and faculty can download ClamXAV and Windows Defender/Security Essentials for free, but the protection shouldn't stop there. We also recommend downloading other virus scanning tools, here at the OSU Computer Helpdesk we often use Malwarebytes and SUPERAntiSpyware both of which are available for free.

Click HERE to watch a tutorial about running a virus scan with Malwarebytes.

After obtaining the software simply run the program and have it scan for viruses. A good habit to exercise before each scan is to double check that the software's definitions are up-to-date. In order to update the definitions there should be either a tab or button that relates to updating the software, e.g. "Check for Updates online."


Why you need Antivirus Software:

Antivirus is a requirement while you are at the university as it is part of the Acceptable Use of University Computing Resources agreement. Antivirus software is a program designed to protect your computer from computer viruses. Antivirus software protects your computer’s sensitive data, which includes but is not limited to, personal information, browsing history, and credit cards.

OSU Recommended Antivirus Software:

University-owned Devices:

OSU is site-licensed for Microsoft SCEP antivirus software on both Windows and Mac OS. If you are not sure whether your OSU-owned device has antivirus software installed, please contact your desktop support team. 

Personally-owned Devices:

For Microsoft Windows computers, we recommend the Windows Defender/Security Essentials antivirus, which is free to use on personal devices. It provides browsing protection and daily scans of your computer to continually protect it. To install the software please follow the provided instructions.

For Apple Mac OS X computers, we recommend Avira as it is compatible with Mac OS X 10.10 and later. Avira can be found here

Warning: installing Avira on an already infected machine may cause issues involving your computers web browsers. If you suspect your machine is already infected do not install Avira; give us a call or bring it to the service desk. Avira is to be used as a preventative service to keep your machine clean, not to clean an already infected machine.  

Another option for Mac OS X is Sophos.


Other Anti-Malware Software:

If you are already infected or believe that you have an infection and your main antivirus software is not finding anything, Oregon State recommends that you use some proven effective options for advanced scanning of your computer.

Alternatively, you may bring your computer to the Service Desk walk-up or call for assistance: IS Service Desk


How can I keep my computer safe from viruses?

Watch what you download. Don't open any unrequested attachments in your email. Don't use file sharing programs, such as Torrenting Apps (uTorrent or BitTorrent). Run a virus scan at least once a week, and update your virus definitions on a weekly basis. If you are using Outlook as your mail client, make sure to get the most up to date patches available for it.

Do I really need to use anti-virus on a Mac?

The answer is yes!

It is a very common misconception that the mac systems are impervious from malware and viruses. There is no technical reason why a Mac computer could not be infected with malware, but the major reason they have not been attacked as much is because there is a smaller population of systems to infect and gain information. A mac computer already has a built in solution for only "known" malware which Apple flags. There is no detection that occurs using heuristics or watching for malicious actions. Also the mac solutions depend on you keeping your computer up to date at all times.

We recommend that you install an anti-malware program such as our recommendation to help make sure that you are keeping yourself protected at all times. To find out more information on our solution please follow this link for Sophos

I have another anti-virus program. Can I use both and get extra protection?▸

No. You will need to uninstall your current anti-virus program or not install our recommendations. Installing both programs simultaneously will cause problems and can make your computer unusable. If you have already installed both, try to uninstall the last one you installed. If your computer isn't bootable, call OSU Computer Helpdesk at 737-3474 and we'll try to help you get it working again over the phone or in person at the Service Desk (2nd floor of the Valley Library by the Circulation Desk).

How do I get a copy?

Click on the links below for tutorials and links to install and setup basic tasks to protect yourself.

For Windows OS:

Windows 8/10:▸

Windows Defender

  • Built-in protection for Windows 8. 
  • Once you uninstall Symantec Antivirus from a Windows 8 computer, Microsoft Defender will start protecting it

Windows Defender for Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows 8.1, and Windows RT 8.1 offers built-in protection against malware. Everytime you turn on your computer, if you have not purchased another version of anti-virus you will be protected wtih this application. You cannot use Microsoft Security Essentials with Windows 8.1, but you don't have to—Windows Defender is already there and ready to go. But if you’re wanting to protect a PC with an older version of Windows, you can use Microsoft Security Essentials to help protect against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. It offers free real-time protection for your home or small business PCs.

Windows XP/Vista/7:▸

Windows Security Essentials

Microsoft Security Essentials is a free download from Microsoft that is simple to install for Windows 7 and XP, easy to use, and always kept up-to-date through Windows update, so you can be assured your PC is protected by the latest definitions.

Microsoft Security Essentials runs quietly and efficiently in the background so you’re free to use your Windows-based PC the way you want—without interruptions.

If you want to use Microsoft Security Essentials, we recommend that you uninstall other anti-virus software already running on your PC. Running more than one anti-virus program at the same time can potentially cause conflicts that affect PC performance.

Click here for our Instructions for installation and Basic Use of both Microsoft Defender and Security Essentials.

For Mac OS:


ClamXav is no longer free
The antivirus now runs under a 30-day trial before becoming a paid service. We recommend you uninstall ClamXav if you have it on your computer, and replace it with Sophos.

Sophos is a virus scanner for Mac OS X that has the capability to identify both Windows and Mac threats.

Sophos can be setup up as passive or active: scan only the files you tell it to or your full hard drive, whichever you favor; you can also choose to schedule weekly scans to keep your computer secure in real time.

Click here for our guide on how to install and use Sophos

Windows Antivirus Installation

For windows computers, we currently recommend the anti-virus that Microsoft provides for free! This AV is the one of the easiest to come by and has one of the most basic installation processes. If you do not currently have an AV on your computer, it is recommended to get this free Microsoft one. If you have another preferred AV then you can continue to use that one instead.

Finding Windows Defender on Windows 8 and 8.1▸

  1. Click on the search bar found in the right upper hand corner
    Initiate Windows search within Windows 8
  2. Begin typing Windows Defender and double click on the Defender icon
    Search for Windows Defender in the Windows 8 search
  3. Defender will activate
    Shown is the current status of your PC within Windows Defender

Installing Microsoft Security Essentials▸

  1. Navigate to 
  2. Click on the ‘Download’ button on the left side of the page
    Website preview, "Download Now" should be in the middle and toward the left edge of the screen 
  3. Wait until the download finishes and then double click on the ‘mseinstall.exe’ file that comes up
    When finished downloading, please open the .exe file 
  4. Click the ‘Next’ button to continue the installation
    After opening the install, press "Next >" 
  5. Click the ‘I accept’ button after reading the agreement
    Here are the terms and conditions, accept if you agree 
  6. Click the ‘Next’ button after selecting ‘I do not want to join the program at this time’
    Improvement Program
  7. Leave settings on default, then click on the ‘Next’ button
    Here are some settings on optimizing your security essentials setup 
  8. At this point if you still have a previous anti-virus software on your computer select ‘How do I uninstall other anti-virus and antispyware’ otherwise select ‘Install’ to continue the install
     Press Install > to begin to finish the process.
  9. And select ‘Finish’ to complete the installation process
    Process is now finished 


Updating Microsoft Security Essentials▸

  1. Click on the ‘Update’ tab on the top left corner of the window
     Update Tab on MSE
  2. You should now  click on a large button that says ‘Update’
    Update button should be on the left when you open Update on MSE 
  3. Let the client update


Running a Scan▸

  1. Make sure your virus and spyware definitions are ‘Up to date’
  2. Select either Quick or Full scan depending on what you want to scan. Then Click ‘Scan now’
    Default home window 
  3. Quick scans checks the areas that malicious software including virus’s spyware and unwanted software are most likely to infect.
  4. Full scan checks all the files on your hard disks and checks all running programs. Depending on your system a Full scan could take over an hour
  5. If during a scan Microsoft securities essentials finds viruses or malware, an 'At Risk' screen will pop up. Your next step is to select ‘Clean PC’
    PC at risk, Clean PC 
  6. Microsoft Security Essentials will then remove the detected issue
    It will work through and find potential threats 
  7. When all of the detected malware is removed you can select ‘close’ and continue browsing
    After cleaning, you should have a verification screen saying that the actions were applied successfully 


Uninstalling Microsoft Security Essentials▸

  1. Exit out of Microsoft Securities Essentials and make sure the program is not running 
  2. Under Programs select ‘Uninstall a program’
    Control Panel location in Windows 7 
    Uninstall in the Control Panel, under "Programs" 
  3. Scroll through the list of programs until you find and click on Microsoft Securities Essentials, next you click on ‘Uninstall’ 
     Here is a list of programs you must sort through to find MSE
  4. An Uninstaller will pop up and you will select ‘Uninstall’
    When you find MSE, an Uninstall Wizard will show up. Press Uninstall 
  5. Microsoft Security Essentials is now uninstalled
    After the uninstall process is complete, press finish. 



Windows XP Alternatives▸

Microsoft has stopped protecting and supporting Windows XP as the system is now well over ten years old. It is recommended that you use a more recent operating system for your machine's own safety.

If you are unable to upgrade your machine's operating system, here is a list of current supported Antivirus software:

Uninstall Symantec Antivirus

Symantec Clean Wipe

Symantec Clean Wipe is a tool designed by Symantec specifically to help uninstall their products. It is recommended that you only use Clean Wipe as a last resort when trying to remove Symantec products and uninstalling them normally through the Control Panel is a much better option when it works.

Download Clean Wipe/Symantec Uninstall App

You will need to authenticate with your ONID Username and prefix your Username with "ONID\"
Operating System Download
Windows Clean Wipe (Uninstaller)
Mac OS X Symantec Uninstall Application

When prompted enter in your username and password, please remember to put your domain before the username (for example, ONID\onidusername in the username field).

Type ONID\yourusername in the username field, and the corresponding password in the password field

Wait for the download to finish

Using the Clean Wipe tool (Windows)

  • Windows 8: Once you unistall Symantec Antivirus your windows Defender will automatically start to protect you computer. 

1.) Open the Cleanwipe file that was downloaded (it should be a .zip file)


2.) Copy the files that are inside to your desktop (it may help to put them in a new folder)

Find your download and extract the Cleanwipe files

3.) Run the CleanWipe.exe file that you just copied

Find the files you dragged over from the compressed folder and open CleanWipe.exe

4.) If your computer gives you a pop-up box asking for permission to run CleanWipe, click ‘Yes’

5.) Once the program opens click ‘Next >’

When CleanWipe initiates, press Next />

6.) Check the box to indicate that you accept the terms in the license agreement

7.) Click on ‘Next >’

After reading the terms, please accept and press Next />

8.) Check the boxes next to any products that you want to remove. Most commonly this will be the ‘Client Software’ box on the top of the list.

Select the checkbox for "Client Software"

9.) Click ‘Next >’

10.) Make sure you don’t have any unsaved documents open as the computer will be restarting soon

Check Reboot Automatically

11.) Check the box that reads ‘Reboot automatically’

12.) Click ‘Next >’

13.) CleanWipe will now run through and uninstall Symantec

Wait until the process says, "Removal completed successfully"

14.) Once the removal finishes (a message that reads ‘Removal completed successfully’ will show up) click ‘Next >’

15.) Click ‘Finish’

16.) The computer should now restart. If it doesn’t restart automatically be sure to do restart it yourself

17.) Once it reboots make sure that all Symantec products are removed from the computer

Press Finish once the process has completed

Using the Symantec Uninstall App (OS X)

1.) Run the downloaded application. If your computer warns you against running it since it is an application from the internet just click the ‘Open’ button

Initiate your download

2.) Check the box next to any applications that you want to uninstall (Symantec Endpoint Protection)
Select Symantec Endpoint Protection

3.) When prompted to confirm that you want to delete the software click ‘Uninstall’

Press Uninstall when the confirmation prompt is present

4.) Wait while the application uninstalls Symantec

After initiating uninstaller, let the progress bar go through

5.) Once the uninstall is complete and the log opens up on the screen click ‘Close’

Confirmation of Completiion

6.) You will need to restart your computer to complete the removal process. Make sure that you don’t have any programs or unsaved documents open and click ‘Restart’

Restart your computer

7.) Symantec should now be removed from your computer


OS X Sophos


ClamXav is no longer free
The antivirus now runs under a 30-day trial before becoming a paid service. If you still have ClamXav on your computer, you will have to uninstall it before putting Sophos on your computer.

Quick Links:


Installing Sophos

  1. Navigate to the Sophos installation page and click on the green 'Download' button on the right-hand side of the page.
  2. Enter your name and your email address on the following page, then hit "Submit".
     Registration page for downloading Sophos
  3. Click the blue "Download" button.
      Blue download button on Sophos page
  4. Accept the agreement terms and download the program from the bottom of the page.
    Accept terms to download the program 
  5. Find the installation package in your downloads folder, and double-click on it.
    Find the zipped Sohpos package in your downloads folder 
  6. Your computer will unzip the files into a new folder within your downloads folder. Find the folder called "savosx_he_r" and open it.
     The unzipped Sophos Antivirus folder within the downloads folder
  7. Double-click the .app file to begin the installation.
     Double-click the .app to download the application.
    The installation window should pop up after launching the .app file. 
  8. Once the installation is finished, you should see a shield icon  appear in your Finder toolbar. Now you have Sophos up and ready to help protect your computer at all times.

Scheduling Weekly Scans (Recommended)

This is a recommend step as part of using Sophos as this allows for extra protection while using your computer.

  1. Click on the shield icon in your Finder toolbar, and select "Open Scans..."
    The Sophos menu is in the upper right corner 
  2. Expand the Scans window by clicking on "Custom Scans" at the bottom.
     What the Sophos Scans window should look like after expanding the Custom Scans menu
  3. Click on the gear icon Everyone's favorite gear icon in the bottom left and choose "Scan Settings..." from the drop-down menu
  4. Click on the Schedule tab.
    The custom scan settings window 
  5. Tick the box that says "Enable schedule." You can now choose a day and time for your computer to run your weekly scans.
    The scheduling interface within your scan settings
  6. Hit "Done" to save your changes.

Running a Full Scan

Before running any manual full scans, always remember to update Sophos' virus definitions. This helps Sophos better find and quarintine potential virus infections on your computer.

  1. To update Sophos' virus definitions, click on the shield icon in your Finder toolbar and select "Update Now".
    Option to update definitions 
  2. Sophos will now begin to search for any updates it needs through the internet. If it pops up with any updates, make sure to install them.
  3. Once all your virus definitions have been updated, go back to the Sophos shield icon and select "Scan This Mac".
     Option to perform a full scan on your Mac
  4. Your computer will now begin scanning all your files for virus infections. This may take a few hours, depending on how much data is on your computer.


Uninstalling Sophos

  1. Search your Mac for "remove". A program called "Remove Sophos Anti-Virus" should appear as the top hit.
    NOTE: If you don't see the "Remove Sophos Anti-Virus" program in your search results, you may need to download the removal tool from the following page.
    Search for the removal tool in Spotlight
  2. Double click the program, and the uninstaller should launch.
    What the uninstaller looks like 
  3. Continue through the uninstaller to completely remove Sophos from your Mac.

Uninstalling ClamXav

Uninstalling ClamXav

  1. Quit out of ClamXav and you will want to make sure that the program is not  running in the background by going to the Apple menu in the top left of the screen and click on the 'Force Quit' option.
    Find ClamXav in the utility bar on the top of the screen, and press Quit ClamXav
  2. In the 'Force Quit' menu check to see if ClamXav is in the list of running programs, if it is click on the ClamXav entry and select the 'Force Quit' button.
    When the Force Quit Applications open, find ClamXav and click Force Quit 
  3. Next is to make sure that the ClamXav is not set to start up when log into your computer by opening System Preferences and clicking on 'Users & Groups' and than clicking on the 'Login Items' section.
    In the System Preferences, find Users & Groups 
     Press Login Items when you're viewing the user
  4. If you see that ClamXav exists in there you will need to remove it by unlocking the panel using the padlock icon at the bottom left corner of the screen. Then you will need to click on the ClamXav entry and selecting the '-' button. This should remove the entry from your start ups and you may just exit out of those windows.
     If you see the program in there, press the minus to take it out of the login items
  5. Now you will have to fully remove ClamXav from your computer. To do this you will either need to download the uninstaller package here, or the original install file from and double click on the downloaded file. There will be a script called 'ClamAv Engine Remove' which you will need to run by double clicking. Once the script finishes you will have completely removed the application.
    When you redownload the installer and mount the drive, you'll find the REMOVER script.

Protection for your Mobile Device

Protection and Best Practices For Your Phone

The iTunes and Google Play stores have many applications. They have a few that could save your privacy on your phone. These applications help protect your phone from malicious applications and downloads. Google and Apple also have testing policies in place that try to protect you from downloading those malicious applications.

Best Practices for securing your personal mobile devices:

Android & iPhone Mobile Device Security Recommendations:

Spam Phone

  • Sophos Mobile Security – Free application that will scan your applications and notify you of potentially unwanted applications. It also notifies you when an application is accessing your personal data such as your address book and gives you advice on how to improve your security settings on the device.

  • Lookout Mobile Security – Free application that will scan your applications and notify you of potentially unwanted applications. It will also block malicious websites from loading your phone. Another feature is that it has a built in find my phone option which will make your phone announce itself so you can easily find it. There are other features which are included in the premium upgrade.



If you would like to find out about other options please use this website to see the recent AV Mobile Test Results:,9-8-6


CryptoLocker - Dangerous ransomware

What is CryptoLocker?

CryptoLocker is malicious software that encrypts your data files (word, powerpoint, pictures, music, videos, etc.). The nefarious individuals then hold your data for ransom and try to extort money from you.


What computers are at risk?

All computers using Windows XP 2, Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1. This includes any Apple or Linux based computers running Windows in a virtual environment like Bootcamp, Parallels or VMWare.


What is encryption?

Encryption encodes your data so only you and authorized people or authorized websites can read the data. Example – When you use a banking website that has “https” in the address bar, the information you transmit to and from that website is encrypted/encoded.


Why is it dangerous?

The encryption designed to safeguard your data is used against you when CryptoLocker infects your computer. Your data files are encrypted with a unique key that only the malicious people/hackers have access to. Encryption can not be broken at this point in time without the key. When your data is encrypted and the key is lost, the data is essentially lost forever.


How can I protect my data?

  1. Backup your data to another location (network drive, external hard drive, cloud storage, etc.)
    1. Disconnect that drive when you are NOT backing up your data to it.
  2. Consider paying for an online backup solution.
  3. Disconnect all drives that you are not actively using.

What if I think my computer is infected?

  1. Disconnect the computer immediately from ALL networks, wired or wireless.
  2. Contact the proper IT support group.

How can I avoid the malware infection?

  1. Don't go to online porn sites, which are often the source of malware downloads. 
  2. Take care when clicking on adverts; never open Twitter links and attachments from people you don't know or trust.
  3. Personally owned computers - 
    1. Download and run the CryptoPrevent tool - 
    2. More info about that tool can be found here -
  4. Do not download files from Torrenting services. These files are often bundled with malware infections.
  5. Use safe web browsing habits -

How can I protect my computer?

  1.  Make sure your operating system is up-to-date with the latest security patches.
  2. Install the latest versions of your internet browsers and update add-ons such as Java and Adobe Flash. Using a program like Secunia PSI to keep up with those updates is useful.
  3. We suggest installing antivirus software, like ClamXAV for Mac OS and Windows Defender / Security Essentials for Windows, all available for free. Ensure that is updated frequently. Configure it to scan your computer on a weekly basis.
    1. Personal computers -
    2. OSU owned work computers are supported by IT staff. If you have questions about that, please contact your IT support group.

Other sources of helpful information about CryptoLocker

  3. Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool from the following page, requires request form:
  4. Test tool from BleepingComputer - checks your files to see if they have been encrypted:

Fake AntiVirus Warnings

Examples of Fake Warnings

Here are two screenshots of fake warnings. Click an image to view at full size.

If you see a popup like one shown here, your computer may already be infected. Shut it down and take it to the OSU Computer Helpdesk or your IT support staff to resolve the issue.

fake security warning

fake antivirus example

About Fake AntiVirus Warnings

Bad guys prey upon people's fears to steal their money and information. One of their favorite tricks is to tell people that their computer is (or might be) infected, and they are relying on you to respond in a manner that installs a virus on your computer.

In some cases, your computer may already be infected before you see the popup. The safest thing to is shut it down and take it to the OSU Computer Helpdesk or your IT support staff to resolve the issue.

But you can protect yourself before you're affected.

Protect Yourself Before You're Affected

There are three big ways to protect yourself before you're affected.

  1. Download free antivirus software, and keep it up to date (free for home use, too).
  2. Enable your web browser's phishing protection settings, usually found under "Tools" or "Preferences" or "Settings." Call the OSU Computer Helpdesk at 541-737-3474 if you're not sure how to do this.
  3. Get to know the look of pop up messages from your current AV software. If you know what you are looking for, you are much harder to fool. Take note of the name and icon of your anti-virus software and click on pop ups that only come from that program.

There are a few additional steps you can take.

What If I Do See A Warning?

A few things to check for if you are unsure about the message are:

  1. Close and quit the web browser (Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc.) immediately. Do NOT click on OK or cancel. Even a button that says "close" can be deceiving.
  2. Does closing your internet browser make the virus alert go away? Often the pop up window is really embedded on an internet page so if you close your browser it will go away. Alerts like this should always be avoided.

If you think you may have accidentally clicked on a fake antivirus warning, shut down your computer. Students can bring laptops to the Walkup Helpdesk for malware scans, while faculty and staff should contact their IT support staff.

What Happens If My Computer Gets Infected?

The viruses that get installed can:

  • Trick you into entering your credit card information or passwords or personal information.
  • Steal your bank account information and empty out your account.
  • Send spam messages from your email address.
  • Corrupt or destroy your documents.
  • Allow other, stronger infections into your computer.
  • Crash your computer or slow it to a crawl.
  • Infect other computers both on the Internet and on a local network.

Who to Contact

OSU work computer - Please contact your IT support staff.

OSU Students - Contact the OSU Computer Helpdesk.

Self help options for personal computers

Macintosh Flashback Virus


Apple has released a security patch for this virus. If you are using OS X 10.6 or 10.7, make sure and install all available updates for your mac. The patch was released as an Apple update, so installing the update will take care of the virus.

  1. What is the Flashback Virus?
  2. What about the new Flashback variant?
  3. How do I remove the virus if it is on my Mac?
  4. How can I protect my Mac from this and other possible infections?
  5. I'm not sure what my OS is, will this fix work for me? (10.5 users click here)


What is the Flashback Virus?

The Flashback virus targets a security hole in the Java software installed on your computer. Java is included with OSX, the operating system on your Mac. The virus is designed to steal personal information in the background without the user noticing, so once your computer is infected, you may not see any difference in the way it runs. To find out if your computer is infected, read the section below.


What about the new Flashback variant?

A new variant of the flashback virus has become available. In order to check if your device has this new variant you will need to open a terminal window by either searching for it using the Finder, or by opening Applications->Utilities->Terminal, then typing the following commands:

  • cd /Users/Shared
  • ls -al

You will be looking for any files ending in the extension ".so". There is a pending list of possible files that may be listed in that directory, so far they are:


There are several other files that may be there, their names and locations are as follows:

  • /Users/Shared/.svcdmp
  • ~/.MACOSX/environment.plist
  • ~/Library/Logs/vmLog

For removal instructions, read the information below:


How do I remove the virus if it is on my Mac?

Apple has released a software update that should fix the most common variants of the infection: directions on downloading that update are provided below:

  • Click on the Apple drop down menu in the upper left corner of the screen, and select "Software Update..."
  • Allow the machine to check for updates. There will be an update named Java Update for OS X 2012-003". Install the update!
  • Keep in mind this only covers the most common variants: there are some instances of this virus that won't be fixed by this update. Install ClamXAV if you haven't already, or some type of antivirus protection!

If you do not have ClamXAV installed, you can download and install it from their website.

PLEASE NOTE: The removal process involves running scans and possibly installing programs on your Mac. If you are not comfortable doing this on your own, you can get help on campus:

  • Students and Employees with personally owned computers:
    If you have a Macbook laptop, bring it to the Walk-Up Computer Helpdesk
    in the Valley Library. If you have a desktop, or you are unable to get to campus, you can call the OSU Computer Helpdesk for help over the phone.
  • Faculty with department issued computers:
    Contact your department support group for help


How can I protect my Mac from this and other possible infections?

There are several steps you can take to keep your Mac safe from infection.

Keep your Mac (and other programs) up-to-date

All viruses are designed to exploit security holes in different programs, and most updates work on patching these holes as they are discovered. Using out-of-date software makes it easier for infections to target your system.

To check your Mac for Apple updates:

  1. Click the Apple symbol in the upper-left hand corner of your screen
  2. Click the "Software Update" option. This will check for any Apple related updates. It will allow you to install if any updates are found.

To check your Mac for other program updates:

This varies based on what program you are using, but it can generally be found by opening the program, then looking for an "Updates" option in one of the top menus.

Updating your Operating System:

Older Mac Operating Systems (OSX) have additional vulnerabilities that newer versions don't have. The latest versions of Mac OSX are 10.7 and 10.6. You can check which version of OSX you are using by clicking the Apple symbol in the upper-left hand corner of your screen, and clicking on "About this Mac". If you have a version that is below 10.6, you may want to consider purchasing an upgrade for your computer if possible. Contact the OSU Computer Helpdesk for more details.


Install an Anti-Virus Program

Everyone is elligible to download free antivirus from ClamXAV. If you need help installing an Anti-Virus program, you can bring your Mac (If it is a laptop) to the Walk-Up Computer Helpdesk in the Valley Library. Note if you are faculty with a department owned Mac, you will need to contact your department support group for help.


Practice safe browsing habits when using the internet

Browsing to the wrong website is one of the most common forms of infection. Follow the suggestions on the safe browsing page for safe browsing tips.


I'm not sure what OS I use, what fix should I try?

Currently, 10.5 users and earlier are going to have to disable their Java until they can remove the infection, as the new update from Apple doesn't cover their OS. If you're not sure on how to find your OS version, follow the directions below:

  1. From the Apple menu (apple symbol in upper left-hand corner), select "About This Mac".
  2. The resulting window shows your operating system version.
  3. IF you have OSX 10.5 or lower, please use the following directions:
    • Click the Search button in the upper right hand corner, and type in “Java
    • Java Preferences should be the first item that comes up, click on it.
    • On the menu that comes up, uncheck all the boxes. This will disable Java for you.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are using OSX 10.5 or earlier, we highly recommend (for security reasons) that you look into purchasing an update if your computer supports it. If you have questions about updating, contact the OSU Computer Helpdesk.

If you are faculty and using a department issued laptop, you should be eligible for an upgrade through your department. Contact your department support group for help.

Malware Detection at OSU

Oregon State University utilizes a device on our network called FireEye. This device monitors the network for patterns of activity a computer displays when it is infected with malware, or has been compromised by hackers.

When the FireEye device detects signs of malicious activity, it sends an alert to the OSU Computer Helpdesk, who, in turn, sends a notification to the registered owner of the computer. The user is then responsible for contacting the Helpdesk to resolve the issue. This document outlines that notification process.

Please Note: While every attempt will be made to resolve the situation through this process, there may be instances where the availability, confidentiality, or integrity of the OSU network or the data residing therein is placed at risk by the activity discovered on the device. In such cases, network access for that system will be blocked prior to notification.


Notification Process

OSU notifies users when a malware infection is detected on their computer. Users must come in for help, or inform the Helpdesk that the infection has been removed.

Notifications include technical details on the infection and give users information on how to clean their own computers. Please note that the notifications will be from and will be followed with an email from detailing options you have to clean your computer.

Network access disabled notification:

If the user does not come in for help or notify the OSU Computer Helpdesk and they continue to receive notifications from then the user’s network access will be disabled and a notification of the access restriction will be sent.

A user is not typically disabled until after three notifications have been sent, but there are circumstances that will extend the amount of notifications before loss of network access, such as a long period of time between malware notifications from FireEye.


Example Malware Notifications

Below are examples of the notification e-mails sent to users, which can be used as reference to ensure these are not fake emails or phishing attempts.

Example from Security:

Hello [Customer Name],

OSU's network security group has detected malware activity originating from your machine.
This is most likely due to a malware or virus infection on your machine.  Please check you
machine for viruses and malware and remove any infections.  If infections are not removed
and further malware related activity is found on your machine, you risk your network
access being disabled until the infection is removed.

Details about the potential infection are listed below:

Malware last detected: [Date] [Time]
IP: [Customer’s leased IP at time of detection]
Hostname: [Customer’s hostname on network]
MAC Address?: [Customer’s Hardware address]
ONID Username: [Customer username]
Zone: [Zone customer’s computer was assigned to]
Malware: [Type of infection detected]
Attacker's Info: [IP address? and port infection is communicating through]

For more details on this infection, visit

For help removing this infection on your own, see

If you would like assistance removing the infection please contact the OSU Computer
Helpdesk -
Phone: 541-737-3474

Note: This report is for your information and a copy is provided to the OSU Computer
Helpdesk. (If you are reasonably sure that this report is a false positive, no action or
response is required).


Example from the OSU Computer Helpdesk:

OSU’s Network Security group ( sent you an e-mail recently informing you about a possible malware infection on your computer. The OSU Computer Helpdesk wanted to check in with you and see if you have been able to remove the infection.

Because network security is a priority for personal and network safety, careful procedures are in place to quarantine potential infections. If no response is received from you after multiple notifications, the Helpdesk will disable your network access. Multiple warnings will be provided before access is disabled and it is easy to restore your network access by contacting the Helpdesk to inform them you have cleaned the infection yourself, or for help removing the infection.

Please be aware that if you clean the infection yourself, you must inform the Helpdesk that the infection is resolved. If  you don't respond to this email and your computer is still reporting as being infected, the Helpdesk will disable your network access after three notifications.

Clean it yourself -

You can also find out more information on how to remove infections here:

If you clean your computer, please respond to this email that you have cleaned your computer. If you receive another notice after reporting that you have cleaned the computer your network access will be disabled and you will be notified.

Students with laptops - 

If you still need assistance, please come to our Walk Up Helpdesk, located on the main floor of the Valley Library. It is open 8AM-9PM Monday through Thursday, 8AM-7PM Friday, and 3PM-7PM Sunday. You can also give us a call at 541-737-3474.

Students with desktop computers living in the dorms -

Call the OSU Computer Helpdesk at 541-737-3474 for guidance and further assistance.

If you do not have an anti-virus program on your computer -

You can get Symantec Endpoint Protection for free with your ONID account. If you already have an antivirus program, please use Malwarebytes to double check that you do not have viruses on your system.

How to use Malwarebytes - Malwarebytes download page

How to install/obtain Symantec endpoint protection - video tutorial of how to install Symantec Endpoint Protection

You can go to for more information on viruses.

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

If you are forwarding your email to another account, please make sure to check your spam folder for the messages we are contacting you about.