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Digital IT

System security for a personal device

We've added some basic guidance to help you maintain the security of your own computer and to avoid the potential loss of the information that you might have saved to it.

Good security management includes:

  • Protecting your own computer with a strong password;
  • Installing and keeping up to date anti-virus, anti spyware and firewall software;
  • Setting operating system updates to automatically install;
  • Not relying on one copy of an important file: make sure that you have a backup copy of your data.

Anti-virus and anti-malware software helps to protect your computer from viruses, worms and other malicious software. However the protection is only as good as the last update, as new viruses and malware are released every day.

  • Use one anti-virus product (more than one may conflict with each other)      
  • There are a number of free products for non-commercial use, these include:
  • But do a search/check computer reviews and use products from a reputable vendor or provider, ensuring you comply with all licensing requirements.  
  • Schedule daily updates for when the machine is switched on and online.
  • Schedule a weekly full system scan to check for infected or corrupted files.
  • Windows users might also like to consider additional anti malware protection, such as Malwarebytes, Spyware Blaster or Spybot.

Common symptoms of a virus infection:

  • Virus program alerts;
  • Pop-up advertising;
  • Access to files denied;
  • PC will not start;
  • PC is unusually slow;
  • PC restarts without your authorisation;
  • Files have disappeared.

How to recover from a virus infection

Check that your virus definitions are up to date (View the program's Help - About screen to check for the last update). If more than two days, manually apply an update from the anti-virus provider's site, then disconnect from the internet before:

  • Running a complete scan;  
  • Cleaning/disinfecting any viruses found.

Also scan and disinfect any external drives e.g. USB memory sticks and disks, otherwise you will keep re-infecting your computer.

If symptoms persist, start the machine in Safe Mode. To do this press F8 during start-up (before the Windows Start-up Menu is displayed) and then select Safe Mode. This means the PC will start-up in a minimal configuration, with only essential parts of Windows loaded. Then repeat the above actions—run  the  complete  scan etc. If symptoms still persist, the only remaining option is to reinstall Windows using the original disks.

If you require further assistance, please bring your device to the Digital IT Drop In

I use a Mac and they can't get virus infections

Wrong! This is a commonly held belief. Although Windows based machines are more prone to infection (due to high numbers of Windows users worldwide) Macs can still get virus infected. It is less common for a Mac or Linux run computer to have a virus infection, but virus writers are widening their scope  and  targeting  anything connected to the internet. Anti-virus products are available for these machines, so get searching and apply the same protection principles as advised for Windows users.

Remember that you need to have an up to date operating system and antivirus product before connecting to the University’s network.

Any computer, Mac or PC, connected to the internet is vulnerable to viruses, spyware and hacking attacks. University owned and managed computers should have these security settings and protection as standard. However, if you have a computer/laptop at home or in halls, you'll also need to implement these security measures. It is a lot easier (and much less technical) to protect your computer than you think.

Operating system (OS) - does all the background things to make your computer work e.g. Vista, Windows 7 & 10 or Mac OS X. The OS is only as secure as the day it was written and there are lots of hackers and viruses that take advantage of out of date operating systems, so you must get regular updates.

Check that Windows updates are turned on:

  • Click the “Start” button. In the search box, type Update, and then, in the list of results, click Windows Update.
  • In the left pane, click Check for updates, and then wait while Windows looks for the latest updates for your computer.
  • If you see a message telling you that important updates are available, or telling you to review important updates, click the message to view and select the important updates to install.
  • In the list, click the important updates for more information. Select the check boxes for any updates that you want to install, and then click OK.
  • Click Install updates.

Check that Mac updates are turned on:

  • Versions prior to Mountain Lion: Apple Menu > Software Update
  • Mountain Lion (and later versions): Apple Menu > System Preferences > App Store