Skip to main content

Office of Information Technology

Antivirus and Antimalware

Each year many computers on campus and at home, with either no virus protection software or outdated software installed, are damaged by computer viruses and malware. 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.

 

Precautions You Can Take To Reduce Your Risk of Losing Data

  1. 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 Microsoft Security Essentials on your personal computer. Windows 10 computers have Windows Defender built in.
  2. Mac users should download Avira Free Antivirus for Mac, which can be downloaded here.
  3. Update your antivirus software regularly. 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. 
  4. 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. 
  5. Apply all the latest updates for your computer's operating system and applications. Go to the operating system vendor, such as update.microsoft.com, 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 can cause significant damage to personal computers and network servers.

If you have questions, please contact the IT Help Desk at 202-885-2550, helpdesk@american.edu, or AskAmericanUHelp.