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Avoiding Viruses and Malware


 

Malware is short for malicious software, software which is designed to facilitate malicious or illegal activity such as compromising normal computer functions, stealing private data such as account logons and financial information, or conducting attacks on other computer systems.  There are several things you can do to reduce your risk of infecting your computer:

  • Run antivirus software, and keep it up to date.  Regularly scan your computer.  Understand what to do when your virus scanner detects a virus or its updating feature fails.
  • Keep your operating system and programs, especially web browsers, up to date with the latest patches.
  • If possible, use ad and script-blocking extensions in browsers which offer the feature.
  • If possible, avoid the use of browser "plugins" such as Java or Flash, as these are often vulnerable to infection.
  • Be careful when downloading and using free software programs from the Internet, as these are sometimes bundled with malicious software.
  • Do not open email attachments from people you don’t know, and be very careful when opening attachments from people you do know; the return address on an email message is easily forged.  Understand the concepts of file types and file extensions, and maintain a basic familiarity with the most common types of files.

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