Protect your Computer Against Viruses and Malware

Make sure you have good and up-to-date virus and malware protection.

Malware come in a multitude of varieties. Primarily, malware is software that captures information stored on your computer, without your permission or knowledge, and relays that information to others without your consent. It can produce unwanted pop-up ads and take you to unwanted sites. These malicious programs can dramatically slow down the performance of your computer, as well as change your security settings so that your computer is vulnerable to attack.

The US Computer Emergency ReadinessTeam provides an excellent overview of malware. Please take the time to review this brief article on Recognizing and Avoiding Malware.

It is critical that you have virus and malware protection software installed on your computer to protect your computer against these threats. There are many options to choose from. Some are free, and some you have to purchase. If you are an IUP student or employee, you do not have to purchase this software, because IUP provides Malwarebytes malware protection software to all IUP students and employees.

Microsoft included Windows Defender on every new computer. It comes installed on all Windows 8 and above operating systems. For MacBooks, an antivirus software will need to be installed. See the entry below for IUP's suggested product.

Keep Your Malware Protection Software Updated

There are always new kinds of malware being created. The makers of malware protection software are constantly studying these new threats and publishing updates so they can protect your computer against the new threats. Often, the protection software is set to routinely check back with the manufacturer to see if there are any new updates, but this is a customizable setting. It is up to you to make sure your protection software is getting updated as often as possible.

Keep Your Malware Protection Software License/Subscription Active

Make sure you do not let your protection software license/subscription expire. Many manufacturers will only provide you with updates for a limited time. When the license or subscription expires, they may require that you purchase their software if you were on a free trial, or pay to renew your subscription. Please keep this in mind, and make sure you know how long you have until you need to renew. Often, the software will remind you of this, but you should never just assume that it will.

Beware of Free or Trial Versions of Malware Protection Software

Often, free versions of protection software do not offer real-time protection from threats. Many of them are only designed to remove threats after they have already occurred. These programs are can be useful when removing an infection, but they do not do anything to protect you from getting infected. You should have some kind of malware protection software that is constantly monitoring your computer and can help prevent infections.

Many of the free versions of protection software are actually trial versions. The trial periods are often good for a month or more. After the trial period expires, the software will usually ask if you want to purchase a subscription of the product. It is up to you to make sure your malware protection software does not expire.

Get Malwarebytes from IUP
Steps to combat Malware on your computer

Here are some steps that you can take to avoid and combat malware:

  • Avoid installing"free" web search toolbars and other internet-based applications (Kazaa, Gator, etc.).
  • Reboot and log on to your computer daily to make sure that you have the most current security patches and virus signature updates.
  • Be alert for unusual behavior on your computer, like seeing unexpected toolbars that get added to your web browser, excessive pop-up ads, unusual search results, web browser activity that takes you to unintended pages, very sluggish response, etc.
  • Any time that you are concerned about unusual behavior with your computer, use your spyware/adware detection tool to check your computer.
  • When malware is suspected, a virus scan is also recommended to ensure your computer is clean of viruses.
What are Computer Viruses, and How Do I Protect Against Them?

Computer viruses are malicious programs that can harm your computer or compromise your personal information. You can get viruses from email attachments, from downloading software from untrustworthy sites, or even from just visiting a website. Viruses can make your computer unusable, capture personal information, or can cause a number of other problems. To protect against viruses, all computers should have antivirus programs installed. There are many antivirus programs available which can help protect your computer. Some of these programs are free, and some you can purchase. It is critical that you make sure you have good antivirus software installed.

You Do Not Need to Purchase Antivirus Software

The Windows operating system has a built-in antivirus package called Defender. Please be sure this option is turned on for your computer.

IUP currently recommends Avast Security for Mac. It is a free download.

Update Your Antivirus Software Regularly

You must also ensure that you are keeping your antivirus software updated. There are always new viruses being created. The antivirus manufacturers are constantly studying these new threats and publishing updates for their software in order to protect your computer against the new threats. Many antivirus programs are designed to routinely check back with the manufacturer to see if there are any new updates, but this is often a customizable setting. It is up to you to make sure your antivirus software is getting updated as often as possible.

Keep Your Antivirus License/Subscription Active

Make sure you do not let your antivirus license/subscription expire. Many antivirus manufacturers will only provide you with updates for a specified duration of time. At the end of that time, they may require that you purchase their software, or pay to renew your subscription. Please keep this in mind, and make sure you know how long you have until you need to renew. Often, the software will remind you of this, but you should never just assume that it will.

Beware of Trial Versions of Antivirus Software

It is important to note that many new computers come with a trial version of antivirus software. This trial is often good for a few months. After the trial period expires, the software will usually ask if you want to purchase a subscription of the product. If you don't purchase it or update your subscription before it expires, your computer could be at risk.

Does my computer have antivirus protection built in?

As stated above, some computers have operating systems that come with antivirus protection built in. See below for more information regarding which operating systems have built-in antivirus protection.

Check your Antivirus Options to see how to best protect your computer.

Windows 10

Windows 10 has antivirus protection built in. It is called Windows Defender. You do not need to purchase any additional antivirus protection. However, you need to make sure that Windows Defender is running and getting updated regularly.

Windows 8

Windows 8 and 8.1 have antivirus protection built in. It is called Windows Defender. You do not need to purchase any additional antivirus protection. However, you need to make sure that Windows Defender is running and getting updated regularly.

Macintosh iOS

Contrary to rumors, Macs are actually vulnerable to viruses and malware and need to be protected by antivirus protection software. Macs do not come with any kind of antivirus software pre-installed. See the Anti-Virus page for suggested anti-virus software.

Chromebooks

Chromebooks have built-in protection against viruses. There are no third-party antivirus programs you can install on a Chromebook. This does not mean that Chromebooks are completely safe, however. Even though Chromebooks are virus-free at this point, there are threats which can cause problems that may seem like it is infected. These problems are usually pretty easy to resolve. If you have problems with your Chromebook, you can always bring it, along with the charger, to the IT Support Center for evaluation.