Information Technology and Services

Secure'cUse: Worms and Viruses

Copyright information

Protect your devices from viruses
Viruses, worms, spyware and adware are all computer software programs deliberately created to perform unauthorized and harmful actions on devices. The impact can vary from a few harmless ads to access of your Personally Identifiable Information (PII). Follow these steps to protect your devices from worms and viruses.

MALicious SoftWARE (aka MALWARE)
Malicious software is considered a virus when it can hunt for target software or documents to infect, add or send a replica of itself to (“infect”) its chosen targets and then harm or access the information on a device. Malicious software can infect your computer from shared files, removable devices and even by surfing the web. Many malware groups use website visits to deliver viruses. This is called a drive-by download attack. When you visit a website the malicious program is automatically downloaded to your computer without your consent or even your knowledge. A questionable site can secretly redirect the connection to a malicious third-party server that can target and attack vulnerabilities in your browser.

Worms
Worms spread by exploiting system vulnerabilities in computers on the same network as the infected device. When the infected program or document is opened the worm executes a code to detect any system vulnerabilities. The worm then infects the vulnerable parts of the device. Often, a worm will stop the device’s buffer mechanism that prevents messages or information from overriding important memory. The worm replaces valid computer instructions with malicious ones. When a program attempts to perform a function that includes the corrupted instructions, it will activate the virus instead, infecting your own device and others on the same network.

Spyware and Adware
Spyware and adware are programs that can be secretly installed on your computer when you access questionable websites. Often, the owners of these sites receive payment for letting spyware/adware sources use their site as a host. These programs determine your interests so sites can tailor their advertising. These ads often link to questionable and dangerous sites. The program will typically capture the names (or URLs) of the websites you visit and store that information either on an Internet-based computer or on your own computer in small files known as “cookies”. The programs can install software that intentionally or unintentionally degrades the performance of your system, uncover confidential data, captures passwords or destroys data. Spyware and adware are less likely to be installed on your computer if your browser’s security settings are restrictive. Even though these settings can disable legitimate sites, it is a good precaution to keep your device safe.

Protect your devices

  • Click here for tips and links to software to keep your device safe.
  • Install antivirus software that will detect, remove and notify you of anything malicious on your system.
  • SU requires all computers connected to the University’s wired or wireless network to have a current version of antivirus software, keep security patches updated and maintain a firewall.
  • Install and use spyware protection software.
  • Keep your operating system patched and install any updates automatically.
  • Use Virtual Private Network (VPN) software for access to critical data.
  • Use reputable software (especially web browsers) and keep them up to date. Popular web browsers, like Firefox, have anti-malware blockers.

If your device gets a virus

  • Contact the Information Technology and Services (ITS) Service Center at help@syr.edu or (315) 443- 2677.
  • Visit the ITS Service Center in the Center for Science and Technology, room 1-227.

Last Updated: 05/07/13