It's important: Antivirus software a must

written by Cathy McVey, IT services

It’s not fun or full of new knowledge. It won’t help you compose your syllabus or manage your research findings. But antivirus software can help ensure that your syllabus is there to download and your data is intact.

Having antivirus software loaded and updated is like brushing your teeth – not exciting, but it keeps you safe and healthy.

What is a virus?
What is a virus and how does it infect your computer? A virus is a program designed to make your computer run slowly, damage parts of your system, and/or steal personal information. Those are just a few of the things that these hidden monsters can do. And, like a human virus, a computer virus spreads via contact. That contact can be over a network, via an email or even via a USB drive.

Computer viruses are usually written by highly skilled programmers. Some of these misguided individuals simply seek to prove that they can hack into a major site or obtain private information. However, there are also criminal programmers who have much more devious intentions.

The two most common forms of viruses are worms and Trojan horses. Worms burrow into a computer and then copy themselves onto other network computers. Computers with worms tend to be slower and use more resources like bandwidth. Trojans cause a computer to perform functions without the knowledge of the user, like sending out infected messages.

Malware or spyware is another kind of malicious software. Although not technically viruses, this software is used to spy on a computer user's activities and collect the user’s personal information.

What does antivirus software do?
Antivirus software acts like a "policeman" at the gate of your computer system, protecting it from incoming threats. It also seeks out, destroys and warns you of possible threats to the system. New viruses are coming out all the time, so even the best antivirus protection must be updated regularly to be effective.

Take action
Not having antivirus protection on a computer is like inviting a criminal into your home. Miami supplies Microsoft Security Essentials Antivirus for Windows Vista or version 7 for both university and personally owned computers. Faculty, staff and students can access their free download from Miami’s online software store. Log in and click “Microsoft” in the left navigation. Windows version 8 and Mac both have virus protection included and all you need to do is make sure you keep those up to date.
If you suspect that your computer is infected, get it checked as quickly as possible to avoid major headaches. Contact your technical support representative (TSR) or visit the MiTech computer repair service in Shriver Center for speedy resolution.