General ICT Help
How to Protect Your Computer from Viruses
Viruses can be very dangerous, destroying and changing data on computers, and like human viruses, they spread very quickly. It is therefore vital to prevent their entry into the University, and limit their spread if one does gain entry.
There can be no absolute guarantees about being able to avoid virus infection, but maintaining a good defence on your computer will help to prevent them. The University has put various defences in place, but there is still an onus on you, as users of University computers, to follow guidelines to ensure these defences are not breached.
Any large-scale outbreaks of a virus that do occur within the University will be reported on the IT Services web pages, and/or notified by email.
Anti-virus software is installed on every University computer supported by IT Services. This is called F-Secure on PCs. It is made up of the software itself, and updates to it – called the virus definitions database or signature files. The virus definitions database contains protection for the latest viruses, so is constantly updated by the software company. PCs connected to the University network are automatically updated every few days, so you are protected against the latest viruses.
All emails coming in to the University are checked for viruses, and not delivered if they contain a known virus. Also, any emails with attachments known to carry a risk of viruses, (such as .com, .exe and .bat files) are not delivered. For more details see our Advice on Attachments.
You'll usually see a popup box from F-Secure saying that a virus has been found.
However, strange behaviour on a PC can also indicate the presence of a virus. Open desktops and laptops are particularly vulnerable to attack.
Things to look out for include:
- Loss of mapped drives
- Cursor moving around screen on its own
- Windows open and close of their own accord
- Applications fail to open or open of their own accord
- The F-Secure icon disappears from the bottom right of the screen
- Internet browser goes to sites of its own accord
- You get system warnings re low disk space or low virtual memory
- Outlook won’t open
If you get a pop-up from F-Secure saying a virus has been found:
- make a note of the name of the virus and the full path and file name of the infected file.
- Contact the IT Service Desk on ext. 2000 for advice and assistance (If the problem occurs outside Service Desk hours see note below)
- select the option to disinfect it.
If you notice any strange behaviour on your computer (as above), contact the IT Service Desk on ext. 2000 immediately.
Outside Service Desk Hours
If you have had a pop-up from F-Secure saying a virus has been found and you need to continue work urgently it may be possible to disinfect the file:
- select the F-Secure option to disinfect the file.
- if F-secure reports that the file has been successfully disinfected you can continue working.
- If the file is not successfully disinfected, disconnect your computer from the network, (but leave it switched on) - this is ESSENTIAL to prevent the virus from spreading. Do not use the computer.
- Whether or not the file was disinfected successfully you should contact the IT Service Desk on ext 2000 as soon as you can.
If you notice strange behaviour on your computer:
- check that your anti-virus software is up-to-date and running, (see below).
- call the IT Service Desk on ext. 2000 at the earliest opportunity and ask to have your computer checked
If you have any suspicions that you computer may have been infected with a virus, contact the IT Service Desk on ext. 2000 immediately for advice.
Actions you should take to prevent viruses spreading or entering the University:-
Check the status of your anti-virus software and ensure it is up-to-date and running
To check the status of F-Secure anti-virus software on your PC, look for the F-Secure icon(s) in the system tray at the bottom right hand corner of your screen. When F-Secure is running you will normally see a grey upside-down triangle .
A yellow warning marker on the icon indicates that something is wrong with your anti-virus settings. If you see the yellow warning marker, please contact the IT Service Desk (ext. 2000).
Don't ignore virus warnings
If you ignore a warning, you are not only endangering your own computer, but risk spreading a virus throughout the University. Please deal with it immediately, as in the section above.
- Don’t open any email attachments if you don't know what they are or where they've come from
- Don’t load software that you can’t confirm the origin of, e.g. from non-reputable web-sites
Guidance for Laptop Users:-
- Connect to the network at least once per month at home or University to get the virus database definitions updated, and keep your protection up-to-date.
To check the date of the virus definitions database:
Double click the blue triangle icon, then Properties > Updates or Automatic Updates.
Guidance for Open Desktop Users:-
- Make sure the firewall is on and set to disallow all incoming connections.
- If your version of F-Secure allows it, make sure IDS (Intrusion Detection) is set to “block and log”, not “log only”.
- If you do not have this facility in F-Secure, and you are using XP with Service Pack 2, enable the Microsoft firewall and set it to disallow all incoming connections.
Note: You may sometimes receive mail from elsewhere indicating you have sent a virus to someone else. In most cases this will be because your e-mail address has been"spoofed" or forged. Unless the mail relates to someone you know please delete the mail message. It is very unlikely to have originated from your University PC.
If you are using a University owned computer at home, F-secure should already be installed on it, but you should ensure that you keep the software and the virus definitions database up-to-date. To update the database, you should regularly connect your computer to the University network or to the Internet from home.
If you have your own home computer, you should ensure that you have up-to-date virus software running on it. This should be supplied with your computer, so contact your computer supplier for installation advice.
It is possible to use F-Secure on your own home computer free of charge if you are a member of staff or student. However the University can take no responsibility for its use on your computer. You can download the software from the ITS Download Facility.
It is obviously very important to keep the virus definitions database up-to-date on your home computer; F-Secure will automatically check for updates.
Instructions for Home Installation of F-Secure.