Before connecting your computer to the college network, ensure that it is up to date and secured against viruses and other attacks. You can secure your computer during the network self-registration process. There are three major areas you need to cover: antivirus software, Windows updates and a firewall. Instructions on setting these up are below. Finally, you should check for malware such as adware or spyware. Information on this is at the bottom of the page.
Most computers are bundled with anti-virus software these days. Just check that the subscription for updates on your computer is up to date (you will normally be given a year or six months for free).
Below is a list of links to antivirus software sites if you do not have any installed. Note - before installing new antivirus software, make sure you remove any old antivirus programs from your computer, otherwise they will conflict.
If you think you already have a virus and your software does not seem to be detecting or dealing with it, try downloading Stinger from here. This is a stand-alone, free to download program for Windows that will scan for and delete most viruses from your computer.
Stinger runs best in Safe-Mode. To do this, first save stinger to your hard drive. To enter safe mode, restart your computer and tap F8 just after the computer manufacturer's logo appears, then choose "Safe Mode". Now run stinger from wherever you saved it. This ensures that programs that stinger may need to delete aren't still running when you start the scan. To save time, it is also a good idea to delete all temporary internet files before running stinger; they can take a long time to scan and usually contain nothing harmful.
Microsoft releases security updates for Windows and it is important that you install these to protect your computer from attack. You should visit the Windows Update site, http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com, regularly. This site only works properly with Microsoft Internet Explorer.
To check that updates are being installed automatically, right click on My Computer and click on Properties. In the Window that opens, click on the Automatic Updates tab, make sure that the Automatic option is selected.
Mac OS X automatically checks weekly for software updates provided you have an internet connection.You can choose a different schedule or check manually if you don’t have a continuous internet connection.
To check for updates choose System Preferences from the Apple menu, followed by Software Update from the view menu. Click Update Now. Select the items you want to install then click Install. Enter an Admin user name and password. After the updates are installed restart the computer, if necessary.
The College network is protected from outside by a firewall. However, this will not protect your computer if someone within the College network has a virus. So it is a good idea to run a software firewall on your computer.
MacOSX, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP Service Pack 2 and above (which will be installed if you install the updates for Windows XP) include their own firewall. It is however possible to disable the Windows firewall and install another product such as Zone Alarm or some that are included with antivirus software (see above). However, this may cause trouble with Windows services such as file and printer sharing if not configured correctly.
Malware is a term that covers a wide range of software that can be found on your computer. Sometimes it is installed without you knowing, sometimes it is installed with your consent (check the License Agreement) when you install other software, sometimes it is installed just by visiting a webpage with an insecure operating system or web browser.
Malware may slow your computer down, it may track your web browsing behaviour and return that information to advertisers to produce popup advertisements on your screen. It may even log your personal details such as credit card numbers.
Removal - There are a number of programs that remove such Malware, although prevention is the best route. Studies have shown that an unprotected fresh install of Windows XP can be compromised within 12 minutes of being connected to the internet. So always keep your computer up to date. Internet Explorer is often particularly vulnerable, so consider switching to an alternative browser like Firefox.
Beware sites that claim to have programs that remove spyware or malware as they often install spyware of their own. Before trying a new program, find some information about it on Google.
The last resort for a spyware-infested or virus-infested computer is a complete reinstall of the operating system.