How to keep your computing devices malware free

Malware comes from the words ‘malicious’ and ‘software’, and is designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system without the owner’s consent. Malware includes computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware, and other malicious and unwanted software.

Is my computer affected?

Below are a number of common signs that your computer may be infected with spyware or adware viruses:

  • Numerous Popup windows appearing
  • Frequent computer crashes
  • Strange hard drive/modem behaviour
  • Unusually slow computer and/or Internet connection
  • Stolen credit card numbers, identity theft, or phone charges to high rate numbers

Even if you notice none of these signs, Spyware could still be present on your computer. It often sits idle on your computer, waiting for a pre-set time to strike you or other computers on the Internet.

What should I do?

  1. Make sure you are running anti-virus software on your college computer
  2. Select a Program to Scan Your Computer for Spyware/Adware.
  3. Be selective about what software you download especially when it is “freeware” and “shareware” as these can sometimes be sources of spyware infections.
  4. Don’t click on links in spam email, spyware is increasingly spread through e-mail just like other viruses.

How can I prevent spyware from installing on my computer?

To avoid unintentionally installing it yourself, follow these good security practices:

  • Don’t click on links within pop-up windows – Because pop-up windows are often a product of spyware, clicking on the window may install spyware software on your computer. To close the pop-up window, click on the “X” icon in the titlebar instead of a “close” link within the window.
  • Choose “no” when asked unexpected questions – Be wary of unexpected dialog boxes asking whether you want to run a particular program or perform another type of task. Always select “no” or “cancel,” or close the dialog box by clicking the “X” icon in the titlebar.
  • Be wary of free downloadable software – There are many sites that offer customized toolbars or other features that appeal to users. Don’t download programs from sites you don’t trust, and be aware that you may be exposing your computer to spyware by downloading some of these programs.
  • Don’t follow email links claiming to offer anti-spyware software – Like email viruses, the links may serve the opposite purpose and actually install the spyware it claims to be eliminating.
  • As an additional good security practice, consider adjusting your browser preferences to limit pop-up windows and cookies.


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