Antivirus and Malware Protection
Malware - short for malicious software - includes viruses, spyware, and other types of harmful software designed to cause disruption, gain unauthorised access to your device or obtain personal information.
What IT does for you
IT uses centrally managed anti-malware software across all university-managed devices to detect and remove malicious software from infecting our systems. These systems include student and staff desktops and laptops, servers and our student email system (Microsoft).
Our systems are scanned and updated regularly with current security patches to ensure the latest definitions are installed to protect against new threats. Even though we have precautions in place, we cannot catch everything and every now and again, something can get through.
We ask all our university members to help protect our systems against unwanted attacks by reporting any possible threats or unusual activity.
If you are using a University-managed device (PC, laptop or tablet) and you are unsure if anti-malware protection is installed, please contact the IT Service Desk.
Malware or Virus? What is the difference?
Designed to go unnoticed malware uses popular tools such as email, IM, websites and adverts to spread infected files on peer-to-peer connected devices.
There are many different types of malware; these are the most common forms:
- Virus: Designed to spread from host to host; a virus is a type of malicious code written to alter the way a system operates. It inserts or attaches itself to a file or program that supports macros, where it executes its code. A virus has the potential to cause damaging effects on system software by destroying or corrupting data.
- Worm: Without the needs for end-user action, a worm’s ability to self-replicate destroys systems, devices and networks by using other files to do its work. When one file is opened, an entire network can be infected within minutes.
- Trojan: Found in email attachments, links and pop-ups; Trojans prompt users there may be an issue with their device that requires them to sate immediate action. Most commonly, users are prompted to clean their system or remove a threat. The program executes when the user clicks on the requested application. Trojans can render security software useless.
- Ransomware: One of the most devastating forms of malware it is as the name suggests, demands ransom to get your device running again. Able to spread fast across networks and through organisations, ransomware encrypts all files on a system leaving everything unusable.
- Adware: Using Ads to infect a user’s computer; the adware can redirect searches in web browsers to look-alike page that promote other products. Adware can be easily removed compared to other malware.
- Spyware: Used to spy on systems and their users this kind of malware can use keylogging or similar activities to steal personal data and intellectual property. Hackers who wish to track known users use spyware. Spyware can be easily removed once found.
How to avoid malware
How can you protect your devices against malware and viruses? Try some of the steps below to avoid malware infections on your devices:
- Use a trusted antivirus application
- Keep security patches up to date on all devices
- Avoid clicking pop-ups or side advertisements on websites
- Scan email attachments before opening
- Delete suspicious or unwanted emails straight away
- If you receive strange emails, links or files from a known sender, contact them in case their account is compromised
- Always scan files downloaded from file-sharing websites
- Minimise use of Adobe products; use Chrome or Foxit to view PDFs instead
Signs of an infection
Keep an eye out for any of the following signs your system may be under attack from malware:
- Frequent pop-ups: Those annoying ads that encourage you to visit unusual sites
- Homepage Change: A new home page or search engine opens when you click on your web browser
- Emails sent from your account: Emails sent from your address to your contacts list
- Crashing: Your machine starts to or continuously crashes, freezes or shuts down
- Slow Performance: You find applications start to run slow, tasks take a long time
- Unknown Programs: You find oddly named or untrusted applications on your desktop or applications menu
- Unusual activity: Your password may change; you receive emails of unknown access to accounts
Remove Malware on your devices
Malware and virus protection should be installed on all devices connecting to our university network. We recommend any personal device you frequently use at university, home and public places, including airports, libraries and cafes.
Macs are no longer excluded and should have virus protection installed also. Trojans and ransomware can now attack Mac computers.
Try the following options to remove malware from your device.
- Scan with Antivirus: Install antivirus software on your machine.
Run a full system scan (include registry, removable drives and system files). You may need to run the scan multiple times to remove the full infection.
- Scan with Malware: Install malware software (Malwarebytes) on your machine. Run a full system scan (include registry, removable drives and system files). You may need to run the scan multiple times to remove the full infection.
- Reset browser settings: Reset your browser back to default settings. Remove cache, browser history, password and forms. Clear all settings and then restart your machine. You will need to change your homepage to a new default search engine.
- Delete Temporary Files: Enter safe mode on your machine and remove any temporary files using Disk Clean up. This should be performed before running any antivirus or malware scans.
- Check with Google: If you notice error messages or new search engines on your machine and web browser. You can google the message or name of the unknown application to confirm if it is malicious and how to remove it. The steps are specific to the issue you are experiencing.
- Check Programs and Features: Check for unwanted applications under Programs and Features (Windows) or Applications (Mac). Remove any application that is not used or unknown.
- System Restore: A complete system restore may be required if you are unable to remove all threats from your device. Complete a backup of your files to an external device. Scan the device for any threats before restoring to a new machine.
Act quickly if you suspect your computer is infected; this helps to prevent the spread of malware and protect your personal information.
Report Malware to IT
Steps for removal of malicious software from your device is dependent on the type of attack you are experiencing. For any university device showing signs of a malicious attack, please contact the IT Service Desk.
Please submit the following information for IT to determine the type of malware you may have on your device.
- Type of device (single-use, shared)
- When the signs started
- What signs or issues are you experiencing
- If you received any links in emails or from websites
- If you are being asked for money or completely locked out of the device
- Have you travelled anywhere recently?