Top 10 tips to protect your school from computer viruses

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Virus detection & prevention can be difficult to manage for busy schools with multiple users across site. We’ve provided some top tips to help you to combat the increasing number of virtual threats, including ransomware.

  1. Do not open any files attached to an email unless you know what it is. Even if it appears to come from a friend or someone you know, some viruses can replicate themselves and spread through email. Confirm that your contact really sent an attachment.
  2. Do not reply to or open any files attached to an email from an unknown or suspicious source. Do not open any files attached to an email if the subject line is questionable or unexpected.
  3. Delete chain emails and junk email. Do not forward or reply to any to them. These types of email are considered spam – unsolicited, intrusive messages that clog up the inboxes and networks.
  4. Exercise caution when downloading files from the Internet. Ensure that the source is a legitimate and reputable one. Verify that an anti-virus program checks the files on the download site.
  5. Update your anti-virus software regularly. McAfee security software like McAfee Total Protection update automatically and continuously via the Internet.
  6. Back-up your files on a regular basis. If a virus destroys your files, at least you can replace them with your back-up copy. You should store your back-up copy in a separate location from your work files, one that is preferably not on your computer.
  7. Only share your email address with trusted sources. Only your family, friends, and trusted business contacts should have your personal email address. Do not post your email address on websites, forums, or in chat rooms. If you post your email address, you are vulnerable to receiving spam or having your email passed on to others.
  8. Be smart when using IM programs. If you use an Instant Messaging program to communicate with friends, family or colleagues, be careful when sending any personal information. Never accept strangers into your IM groups.
  9. Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and fake websites, masquerading as legitimate businesses, to lure unsuspecting users into revealing private account or login information. To be safe, if you receive an email from a business that includes a link to a website, make certain that the website you visit is legitimate. Instead of clicking through to the website from within the email, open a separate web browser and visit the business’ website directly to perform the necessary actions. You can also verify that an email is in fact from a legitimate business by calling the business or agency directly.
  10. Create smart and strong passwords. Make it difficult for hackers to crack your password. You can create a smart password by incorporating capital letters, numbers, special characters and using more than six characters. An example of a strong password is: Go1dM!n3 but please ensure you make up your own!

If you are in doubt about any potential virus-related situation you find yourself in, give SBS’ ICT team a call on 0345 222 1551 • Option 1

More information

Viruses

Viruses comprise one class of a wide variety of malicious software known collectively as “malware”. A computer virus takes advantage of the resources available on an infected system to do some or all of the following: to propagate itself via removable media (e.g., USB sticks, CD, DVD), email, or network connections; to destroy data; and possibly to embarrass the owner of the system by redistributing documents found on the victim system’s hard drive or mailboxes.

A computer virus cannot run on its own: the program must be executed in order to take effect. However, viruses can be written to take advantage of a particular program or operating system’s features or security vulnerabilities so as to make it more likely that they will be inadvertently run. Once run, a virus may make modifications to system files so that the virus continues to be run every time the computer is restarted, or every time a particular program (such as an email client) is used.Some viruses only cause minor problems, while other viruses can permanently destroy data. Most viruses include some mechanism for persisting on the infected computer and for propagating themselves to other computers. The propagation methods include transmission via network connections, as emailed attachments or additions to shared files, or even simply writing themselves to removable media, where they will attempt to infect the next computer to access the media. Often a user will learn that his or her own system is infected only when a friend or colleague complains about a strange email message or other odd behaviour coming from the user’s computer.

Another class of malware is known as a trojan. Unlike a virus, a trojan typically does not attempt to propagate itself. Trojans are a form of malicious software that can allow attackers to remotely steal information and/or issue commands to be run on the infected system without the user’s knowledge. Trojans known as “spyware” can allow an attacker to retrieve information about a user’s activities; for example, the user’s internet browsing habits. There are other types of trojans that are designed to take the victim’s data “hostage” by encrypting the data so the owner can’t access it. The victim is then told to pay money in exchange for a decryption key (which may or may not actually work). This type of trojan is known as “ransomware”. At minimum, most trojans can receive arbitrary commands from a remote attacker or controller, and can steal private data such as passwords and confidential files.

Security software

Obtain comprehensive security software. Be sure that you use security software on your PC/laptop or device which protects you and your PC from viruses, worms, ransomware (CryptoLocker), Trojans, unwanted e-mail (spam), phishing scams, and other malicious software.

Ensure you keep security software up-to-date. If your school is using LGfL Sophos it has automatic updates and upgrades on your system, or check the anti-virus software you use does this, but if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give SBS’ ICT team a call on 0345 222 1551 • Option 1

SBS is a leading provider of Information Communication Technology services to the education sector in the UK. Learn more about how we can support your ICT strategy.

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