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Malware is any malicious software that can find its way onto your computer. Malware can be viruses, spyware, adware, worms and more. The best way to prevent your computer from being infected with malware is to be well-informed about the dangers. The next step is to keep updated copies of anti-malware software installed on your computer and to run them regularly.


While it’s true that Macs are less susceptible to malware than Windows PCs, it is important to remember that all computers can spread malware on the Washington College network.  We use and recommend Microsoft Security Essentials to protect Windows XP and Windows 7 computers, Windows Defender on Windows 8 and 8.1 computers, and McAfee for Macs (visit the HelpDesk for information about McAfee).


Please contact the help desk if you have any problems downloading the programs.  We will help you find and install them.

Use only one anti-virus program on your computer.  Using more than one will cause your computer to freeze or not start at all.

OIT provides the following information and software to keep you safe from malware:

Virus FAQs

  • How do viruses travel?

    They can travel as email attachments, via floppy disks, through a network, and as downloads from cracker or non-authentic sites (rarely from authentic sites). They can also be transmitted through chat clients such as mIRC, PRICH and ICQ.

  • What does it mean to “practice safe computing?”

    The principles of “Safe Computing” are:

    Keep your antivirus software up-to-date. New viruses are being deployed daily. If you have a Windows computer, you are in a high risk group. Use McAfee’s Antivirus software (available from the HelpDesk) to take advantage of automatic virus definition updates .

    Run a virus scan on all files that you download from the internet, from friends, from any source other than your own computer. Do a full system scan monthly.

    Do NOT open ANY email with an attachment that you are not expecting, or whose sender is unfamiliar to you. Even if you do not open the attachment, some of the newest viruses can infect your system if you simply open the email message!

    Do NOT open email attachments or click on hyperlinks in email messages from unknown correspondants.

  • Can a virus really harm my computer?

    The main purpose of a virus is to cause damage to your computer or the network. It is always wise to have an up-to-date anti-virus program installed and running on your computer whenever it is in use.


  • What is a virus

    A parasitic program written intentionally to enter a computer without the users permission or knowledge. The word parasite is used because a virus attaches to files or boot sectors and replicates itself, thus continuing to spread. Though some virus’s do little but replicate, others can cause serious damage or effect program and system performance. Some recent viruses that spread via email replicated so quickly that world-wide internet and mail server performance was degraded. A virus should never be assumed harmless and left on a system.