What is Malware?
Malware is an umbrella term for various types of malicious software. This term encompasses:
- Viruses: program that disrupts the normal operation of a computer and causes problems to the computer.
- Trojans: software programs devised by professional hackers to detect device activity, allowing the hacker to assume the user's identity.
- Adware: advertising that is integrated into software.
- Spyware: gathers user information through the user's Internet connection without his or her knowledge, usually for advertising purposes.
One of our primary concerns is malware infections on Windows computers. Common symptoms of malware infection include slow computer performance; difficulty registering or accessing the network; the inability to run Windows Update, other software updates or anti-virus software such as McAfee; and unexplained pop-up warnings, errors, or ads.
Student-owned computers suspected of having any kind of malware infection can be dropped off free of charge at the ITS helpdesk from 8 am–5 pm Monday–Friday.
Tips to Help Avoid Infections
It's nearly impossible to guarantee a way to avoid infections, but here are some good things to keep in mind:
- Have active and up-to-date trusted anti-virus software: McAfee and Norton are major names, but there are other providers that do a good job as well. You need to make sure it is a full-fledged anti-virus suite, however, and it is unlikely (though not impossible) that you'll find one for free.
- Pause and consider links and downloads before clicking and installing: Even trusted sources sometimes get hacked and can provide infected content. Take a moment and think about how likely it is that the action you're about to take will be safe—were you expecting that attachment? Do you think you really need that software to do what you're doing?
- Be suspicious of very scary warning messages: They're almost always malware themselves, especially if you have to click or install something to further scan your computer.
- Run anti-virus and anti-malware scans regularly: In addition to anti-virus, we recommend Spybot Search and Destroy as a fairly light-weight, useful anti-malware tool. Run scans (in safe mode if you're familiar) at least once a month to help keep your computer clean and healthy.
- Ask questions: If you're not sure about something, and don't know how to proceed, stop by the ITS helpdesk or give us a call at 507-222-5999, and we will help you out.
If a computer is infected and user is not able to remove the malware, he or she can:
- For a Carleton-owned or student-owned computer, bring it to the ITS helpdesk (x5999).
- For all other devices, contact a local computer repair service, for example Reboot Computers on Bridge Square in downtown Northfield.
If all else fails, users may have to wipe the hard drive and do a clean install of the operating system.
Skip to end of metadata Go to start of metadata