Security: Viruses

All CWSL workstations have had anti-virus software pre-installed by Information Technology. It is configured to automatically update anti-virus signatures automatically. Please bear in mind that you are responsible for installing and maintaining anti-virus software on any home or personal laptop computer that connects to the CWSL network.

What are Viruses?

Viruses are programs (software) that are created by people. Some of them are benign, some annoying, and some destructive. The thing they have in common is their method of propagation. They are self-replicating if they are able to spread themselves into other executable programs or documents. Usually attaching to valid files to spread to other parts of the system or network. There are two virus sub-types that are important.

Worms: These are generally thought of as viruses but are different in an important way. Unlike a virus that needs another program to propagate a worm has its own self-contained propagation engine. It can email itself out to other victims from its network connected host for example.

Trojan Horses: Like its mythical namesake a trojan horse pretends to be something you want (like file sharing software) until it gets inside your computer then whammo! Actually these programs usually aren't designed for destruction but for spying. Many spy on what websites you go to. Some spy on what keystrokes you make (a.k.a. key loggers). This information is sent automatically back to the programmer or sender of the trojan horse.

What steps can I take to avoid Viruses on my home computer?

I think I've been infected. What should I do?