Malware

Malware, short for malicious software, is software designed to disrupt computer operation, gather sensitive information, or gain unauthorized access to a computer system.

Malware includes computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, spyware, adware, most rootkits, and other malicious programs.

Adware

Mac and Windows users can fall victim to adware.  The easiest way to avoid pop-ups and other annoying ads is to stay away from torrent applications such as uTorrent.  Sites that offer streaming and downloading of movies at no cost that are not free to distribute are the most common source of adware.  If you are asked to install a browser extension or a player to view online content be suspicious.

Mac users - Two known items that bring many Mac users to the Help Desk for adware removal are Geneio and MplayerX.

Geneio is a very popular site that is a known source of adware for a Mac.  When it becomes the homepage in your web browser you most likely have already fallen victim to adware.

MplayerX installed from anywhere other than the Apple Store is a known application bundled with browser extensions and login items that generate unwanted ads and other annoyances on a Mac.  Please do not think you are safe from malware because you are using a Mac.  It is far from true although the malicious stuff is not as broad as it is for Windows users.  The UDit Help Desk has seen dozens of Macs this semester infected with adware.  $50 to clean your Mac becomes pretty expensive for that free movie.  Is it worth risking your academic success to be without your computer for a day or more?

Spyware

How can I tell if I have a spyware problem on my computer?

  • You notice a lot of advertisements popping up on your computer
  • Your settings (like the default web browser page) change and won’t stay put when you change them back
  • You notice additional toolbars added to your web browser
  • Your computer is performing sluggishly

How did this stuff get on my computer?

Most commonly, from downloading free software that had Spyware wrapped in as a “bonus.” Some web pages will also install Spyware in the form of “cookies” when you surf onto the site.

How can I get rid of spyware?

Bring your notebook to the Help Desk for service.

What can I do in the future to prevent getting spyware?

  • Download software from known sources
  • Read the options when installing software — when you can opt-out of “complementary” add-ons, do!

Viruses

How can I tell if I have a virus problem on my computer?

Viruses generally cause issues like slow network performance, sluggish application performance, data corruption/loss, and spontaneous system reboots.  Also, viruses like to replicate themselves via e-mail. If you get reports from folks that you’ve sent them an odd e-mail recently, you may have a virus problem.

How do I get viruses on my computer?

Computer viruses are most commonly spread by means of e-mail (generally via infected attachments or links to infected websites), rogue instant messenger links, or exploitations of unpatched Windows computers.

How can I get rid of Viruses?

Run an antivirus program. If you still have problems visit the Help Desk.