Tag Archives: adobe flash

Virus Prevention

As a general rule of thumb, there are some things that are good to do to keep your computer running its best.

  1. Keep everything up to date!
  2. Don’t click links you’re unsure about.
  3. Don’t visit questionable websites.
  4. Run an anti-virus program.
  5. Scan with an anti-virus program and an anti-spyware program at least once a month.

Keeping programs up to date is one of the easiest ways to prevent a Virus or Spyware infection. Windows XP, Vista, and Mac OS X will all prompt you to install updates if you have it configured to do so. It is configured as such by default.

As for updating all the other programs installed, we use a program called Secunia PSI. It scans your computer for all the programs installed that it has in its database. It then checks it against the current versions of those programs and provides you with links to where to download updates. You can download it here. It’s an amazing tool to know what to update.

As a general rule, you should keep your Operating System (XP, Vista, OSX) as well as Java and Adobe Flash Player up to date. Those are the most common ways viruses and spyware can gain access to your computer.

As a rule of thumb, don’t click on links to suspicious websites. In many programs, you can mouse over the link to see the HTTP address. Just remember to air on the side of caution.

Don’t go to suspicious sites.  If you’re not sure about the site, try searching Google for it.  If a lot of hits come up like “Spyware, removal of spyware, virus related” etc, don’t go to that site.  Also, if you had gotten a virus in the past from a questionable website, don’t go to that website again.

Run an anti-virus program.  This should be really easy for people affiliated with UMass.  UMass has a site license for McAfee Enterprise Virus Scan.  You can get it on the OIT website here.  If you have an older version of McAfee Enterprise Virus Scan installed, uninstall it first.  It might cause weird errors to occur if installing just over the older version.  Also, if you have any other anti-virus programs installed, you should only have one installed.  You shouldn’t have more that one anti-virus program installed, as they tend to fight each other and slow everything down.  Uninstall all but one anti-virus program.

The last way to protect yourself is to run full scans with your anti-virus and anti-spyware software once per month, whether you think you need it or not.  Think of it like an oil change for your car.  It cleans out all the sludge that may build up, whether you see it or not.  If you have the version of McAfee Enterprise Virus Scan distributed from the OIT site mentioned above, McAfee will update itself every day, and run a full scan in the background once a week.  You should also run a full scan once a month with your anti-spyware software of your choice.  We use Spybot Search and Destroy, which can be found here.

The Importance of Updates: A Parable

When I assist clients at our front desk, I try to explain the importance of updating operating systems (e.g. Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux.) Many clients don’t realize that updates are vital to the continued security of computers; you can’t just ignore them. So, to explain what they do, I came up with a fun analogy.

Your computer is like a medieval city with a great wall. The people who designed your city (programmers) want to protect it from from barbarian invasions (virus and malware attacks.)  When they built your city, they erected a giant wall around it for protection (a firewall.) When you started to rule it, you hired a bunch of guards ( you installed anti-virus software.) However, the architects weren’t perfect; there are many small holes in your wall and forgotten tunnels into the city (security holes.) As the architects inspect the city over time, they find these holes and tunnels. Engineers are dispatched around to patch up these holes (Windows Updates) so as to keep your city safe.

The moral of the story: lest the barbarians break in, kill all your guards, and then use your city to attack others, make sure that you install software updates!

Sometimes, you forget to patch the holes in your city or the barbarians find them first. When this happens, you can come to OIT Software Support. Like knights in shining armour, we will happily drive out the barbarians (remove viruses), restore order (fix the problems they created), and give you new and free guards (McAfee AntiVirus.) We’ll also give you advice on how to prevent future invasions; the barbarians are clever.

While all software should be updated, it can be difficult to keep track of it all. There is a program called Secunia PSI. This program will check just about every program on your computer to ensure that it is up-to-date.

If you don’t wish to install Secunia PSI, the most important things to keep updated are the following:

As always, feel free to contact OIT Help Services if you have any questions!