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Northwest Missouri State University


Viruses and Spyware

An article in Computerworld offered up the analogy that buying a computer without anti-virus software is like buying a new car without an airbag. (Frank Hayes, Secure Suggestions, Feb. 23, 2004)

As a contemporary, safety-conscious motorist, you probably wouldn't even consider investing your hard-earned money in a vehicle without this standard safety feature. Yet, millions of computer users across the nation fail to install the equivalent of the airbag on their computers.  Listed below are resources to help you keep your computer healthy and secure.

Note: It is a violation of Northwest Information Technology/Computing Policies for computers to be connected to the Northwest network without updated anti-virus software and Windows updates (or other OS applicable updates).

Northwest provides Microsoft Forefront Security to protect you from maleware and spyware on university computers.  Microsoft also provides Windows updates to protect you from breaches to your security.  Weekly anti-virus upates and Windows updates are automatically sent to your computer whenenver your restart your computer on the Northwest network.  However, if you are away from campus or would like to update your computer more frequently, you can do so manually at a time of your choosing.

Tips to Guard Against Malware:

Northwest’s Office of Information Technology warns campus technology users about malicious software such as "ransomeware" whenever possible.  CryptoLocker is an example of "ransomware," which restricts access to a infected computer and demands that the user provide a payment in order to decrypt and recover his/her files. The primary means of infection for ransomeware and other malware is typically phishing emails containing malicious attachments.

Prevention Tip:

To prevent the spread of such malware, Information Technology recommends users take the following preventative measures to protect their computers from infection:

  • Do not click on unsolicited web links in emails.
  • Do not submit information to web pages via email links (unless you specifically contacted the web page service and are expecting the email.)  Even then, read carefully and critically to make sure that the email is what you expect and is coming to you from the web page service in question.
    • When in doubt, call the web page service directly.  Do not use the link or phone number listed within the email.  Instead, go directly to the service's known web page and use the contact information found on the web site or the back of your credit card, etc. 
  • Use caution when opening email attachments.
  • Maintain up-to-date anti-virus software.
  • Perform regular off-line backups of all systems to limit the impact of data and a system loss.
  • Keep your operating system and software up-to-date with the latest patches.
  • Back-up all important files regularly, so you have copies of your crucial files on a USB drive or external hard-drive.
    • Note:  Ransomeware such as CryptoLocker can lock all drives including USB drives used for back-up.  This normally only occures if you have your USB drive or external hard-drive plugged in at the time of the infection. 
  • Call the Information Technology Help Desk to consult with a Help Desk Representative if you have a question about clicking on an attachment or link at 660.562.1634.

Mitigation Tip:

Information Technology suggests the following mitigation steps for users who believe their computer has been infected with malware:

  • Immediately disconnect the infected system from the wireless or wired network
  • If possible, back-up any important files that you have access to while in Safe Mode with Networking.  (See Note beneath Virus Protection Links for working with Safe Mode
    • Note:  If using a USB drive or external hard-drive for backup after your computer has become infected, you should run an anti-virus scan on these devices prior to using again. 
  • Call the Information Technology Help Desk at 660.562.1634 to report the infection and request assistance.

Windows Updates:

To download the latest Windows Updates manually, either go directly to Downloads at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/default.aspx and look for Windows Update or click on Control Panel on your Northwest notebook computer and then click on the Windows Update icon.  Then click on Check for Updates.

ForeFront Security:

To download the latest Forefront Security virus updates manually, click on Client ForeFront Security on your Northwest notebook computer's Start bar.  When the Forefront Security window opens, click on the small white arrow near the Question mark [?] icon.  A drop down menu will appear.  Click on Check for Updates.  Once updates have been downloaded to your computer, click on Scan to scan your computer to see if problems are present.

Virus Protection Links

Note:  To use Safe Mode or Safe Mode with Networking to save important files or download a virus removal software program such as Malwarebtyes, do the following:  Turn off your computer (either by use of the Start menu or by simply holding the power button down until your computer shuts down).  Next, restart your computer and press the F8 key repeatedly until the Startup menu appears.  Use your arrow keys to either select Safe Mode or Safe Mode with Networking and then press the Enter key.  (Safe Mode with Networking will allow you to get on the Internet)

Removal Tools

  • ComboFix (Will remove Trojan:JS/Medfos.b and other malware.  Will need to disable/exit other security software before running ComboFix.)
    • Note for faculty/staff offices:  Do not use ComboFix if you have a networked Xerox!!
  • SUPERAntispyware
  • Malwarebytes (Will remove some fake anti-virus programs; to do so, must download in Safe Mode with Networking)

Other Spyware Links