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Each year many computers on campus and at home are damaged by computer viruses and malware, because they have either no virus protection software or outdated software installed. In addition to the university's efforts to block viruses, there are steps you can take to protect your computer. As a general rule, the chances of your computer being harmed by a virus or malware are significantly reduced, if you update your virus software at least weekly.

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  • Install virus scanning software. If your computer came with virus protection, you may continue to use it. However, be sure to update it at least weekly. As an alternative, you may use Symantec Endpoint Protection, the virus protection package available to all students, faculty, and staff, free of charge. The latest version of Symantec Endpoint Protection can be found under DOWNLOAD SOFTWARE in the TECHNOLOGY section when you log on to the portal. Follow the installation instructions below.
  • Update your antivirus software regularly. If you are using the AU-supplied Symantec Endpoint Protection software, you will be prompted to update when your virus definitions are more than 30 days old. You can update more frequently by double-clicking the gold shield to open the Symantec Endpoint Protection control panel and then clicking the LIVEUPDATE button. The latest Symantec Endpoint Protection software is configured to automatically update your virus definitions as new ones become available.
  • If you are using your own antivirus software, get in the habit of updating the software at least weekly by checking the vendor's Web site. Some antivirus packages have an option to automatically update the software over the Internet whenever new virus signature files are available.
  • Be very careful when opening e-mail attachments. This is one of the most common ways of transmitting computer viruses. If you don't know the person who sent you the mail, be suspicious of any attachment.
  • Apply all the latest updates for your computer's operating system and applications. Go to the operating system vendor, such as, and download the "service packs" for your operating system. Also, go to the Web site of desktop application vendors, such as Microsoft, Mozilla, Adobe, or Apple, and download security patches for applications such as Microsoft Office, Firefox, Flash, Java or iTunes. These patches will improve security by keeping viruses from changing your computer settings or disabling security features on your computer.
  • If you use Microsoft Outlook as your e-mail client, it is extremely important that you install the latest security patches to protect your data. Microsoft Outlook is a widely used application targeted by many perpetrators of viruses and worms that cause significant damage to personal computers and network servers. Consider using the university's Lotus Notes software or Mozilla's Thunderbird mail software as alternatives, since they are less vulnerable to attack.

Make sure you uninstall any old virus scanning software. You can use the uninstall utility, provided by most virus scanners, or the operating system's add/remove programs utility. Reboot your computer before installing Symantec.

  1. From the TECHNOLOGY section when you log on to the portal, click the DOWNLOAD SOFTWARE link.
  2. Click on the appropriate installation file for SYMANTEC ENDPOINT PROTECTION. There are separate versions for Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Mac computers.
  3. Save the install file to your computer's hard drive.
  4. From Windows, click START and RUN. Go to the folder where you saved the install file. Select the file and click OPEN. From a Mac computer, double-click the downloaded file.
  5. Click OK to continue.
  6. If prompted, click ALLOW. Continue to click NEXT through the various installation screens, as the appropriate selections have been preset.
  7. After the files are copied to your system, the system will update the virus definition files.
  8. Click OK if prompted to delete temporary files.
  9. After it finishes, click the FINISH button to close the window. You may delete the installer file from your desktop.
  10. Restart your computer.

Important: You should run LiveUpdate at least weekly. If you forget, Symantec will prompt you to update when your virus definition files are more than 30 days old. If you have questions, please contact the IT Help Desk at 202-885-2550,, or AskAmericanUHelp.

Microsoft Security Essentials helps guard against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. It provides real-time protection for your Windows Vista and 7 PCs. Microsoft Security Essentials is free and we designed it to be simple to install and easy to use. It runs quietly and efficiently in the background so you don't have to worry about interruptions or making updates.

Download Microsoft Security Essentials from the Microsoft website:

In Windows 8, 8.1 and 10, Windows Defender replaces Microsoft Security Essentials and is built into Windows. Uninstalling any preinstalled antivirus software will automatically trigger Windows Defender to act as your PCs primary antivirus software.

  1. Right-click in the screen's bottom-left corner and choose the Control Panel from the pop-up menu.
  2. When the Control Panel appears, choose Uninstall a Program or Programs and Features.
  3. Select the previous software from the list (e.g. McAfee, Norton, etc.) and click Uninstall.

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