You use your WISD computer for a multitude of online purposes, from researching a service or a purchase for your department, creating and answering email, to possibly viewing private student data. Because of the sensitivity of our jobs, all of us should be educated on the advantages of maintaining and updating the antivirus programs on our computers, running virus scans, and using caution when opening emails or downloading files from unknown sources.
Some emails can contain links that, if clicked on, will download a payload (a virus, worm, or trojan-horse) onto your computer. Direct file downloads from untrusted sources can contain code that will install into and compromise your computer’s operating system (OS). This is all called malware, and this malware can run the gambit of doing nothing much to your computer (rare) to causing so much random damage to your OS that the only fix available is to perform a clean reinstall of your OS. If this is the case then no file on your machine can be considered safe, so you lose everything, every file on your machine.
No one wants this to happen, and as much as we try to be watchful over time we can grow somewhat lax in our vigilance, a trait the more sophisticated malware infections do not share. They constantly roam the internet, searching for a way to infiltrate personal computer systems and cause serious damage. Or they sit on malicious web pages, waiting to be downloaded. They ride as links in unsolicited emails that show up in your inbox. The people who write these black-hat programs do not care what computers they attack or how much damage they do. They only care that they succeed in the attack.
The best, first defense against such attacks is the antivirus program installed on your computer. An antivirus program is a tool that notifies you when something unpleasant tries to access and install itself on your computer. Since your antivirus program scans in ‘real time’ it can usually warn you about an issue before it becomes a disaster by trapping the malicious program before it can install itself.
There are many tools that the WISD uses to help insulate your computer from such attacks. Every PC issued by the WISD comes preinstalled with antivirus software, with real time protection set to ‘on,’ and scheduled scanning active. Real time protection means every file downloaded to your computer is scanned for malware, as the download happens. If it catches anything, then it will isolate the file and pop up a warning. We also run a large antivirus system on our email server, helping to protect your email from unwanted malware.
But it can’t catch everything. If a new virus emerges on the internet, before the AV company has a chance to update its DAT files (a small, downloaded file with information on the malware that the antivirus program uses to identify the problem file), your computer could become infected. This is rare, but it can happen.
To help protect against such events there are a couple of steps you can take to help protect your data and machine:
Of course, it’s impossible to protect against every little thing, but by keeping your scanning software constantly updated, being vigilant about what you download, and running consistent and thorough virus scans, odds are good that you’ll never have a major problem.
Updated 3/2015 by WSC
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