Computer viruses, worms and Trojan Horses are malicious software programs designed to corrupt, delete or record data and interfere with your computer operations without your permission or knowledge. Some can even allow users to control your computer remotely, compromising confidential or personal information. They spread themselves, often by email, to other computers and throughout the Internet.
Viruses attach themselves to programs or files, usually an executable file. They require human action to cause damage; you must run or open the malicious program. Viruses spread when people share infected files or send emails with viruses as attachments.
Worms also spread from computer to computer, but, unlike viruses, have the ability to travel without human help. Worms do this by taking advantage of file or information transport features on your computer; for example, a worm can send a copy of itself to everyone listed in your email address book.
Trojan Horses, much like the mythological Trojan Horse, appear to be legitimate, useful software, but damage your computer once installed or run. Unlike viruses or worms, Trojans do not self-replicate.
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All computers connected to the law school network must have up-to-date antivirus software installed. Antivirus software is a utility that searches your computer for viruses and removes any it finds. The search is based on definitions of known viruses. Because new and updated viruses are released continually, it is critical to update these definitions frequently to ensure that the software has the latest fixes for worms, viruses and Trojan Horses.
Once the software is installed, it is essential to scan your computer periodically. Most software programs have an option to set up an automatic scan at set intervals. It is also good practice to manually scan files you receive from an outside source before opening them.
Antivirus software can be purchased through the Software Licensing Office.
Virus hoaxes usually arrive via email and are intended to frighten or mislead the reader. IT Departments often find that they handle most time handling hoaxes than real viruses. The best way to handle a hoax email is to delete it or to send it to the IT Department; do not pass it along to everyone you know. You should always check reliable Hoax Lists before circulating mass email messages. A sign of a hoax email is the request to "send this to everyone you know."
For more information about hoaxes, see:
This page was last updated on April 15, 2013.