Computer Viruses

The term “virus” is often misused to refer to any malicious computer software. However, an actual computer virus is just one of the many types of malicious software that can be used to attack computer systems. These various types of malicious software are collectively known as “malware”.

Common examples of malware include: computer viruses, computer worms, trojan horse programs, adware, spyware, ransomware and rootkits.

What can I do to protect myself?

Users should remain vigilant when receiving unsolicited computer files. This includes emails sent from other trusted users. If a user’s email account is compromised, it could be used to send malware. If you receive an unsolicited file from a known user, ensure it was a legitimately sent email prior to opening the file.

Users should also use caution when installing untrusted computer software. Some “free” trial software comes packaged with malware programs. If you are unsure if a program contains malware, search for product reviews, or ask other professionals who may be familiar with the program in question.

Users should also ensure their computers are using an up-to-date antivirus program. If you have visited a website containing malicious files, an antivirus program with current virus definitions is your best protection against infection. If you are unsure which antivirus program to use, please select the most applicable scenario below:

  • On-campus users with an OSU provided computer: On-campus users with an OSU provided computer should use Microsoft Forefront Client Security for antivirus protection. For information about installing Microsoft Forefront Client Security, please refer to this support page provided by OSU IT Technology Support.
  • Off-campus users with an OSU provided computer: Off-campus users with an OSU provided computers should use Microsoft Security Essentials for antivirus protection. For information about installing Microsoft Security Essentials, please refer to this support page provided by OSU IT Technology Support.
  • Personally owned computers: Personally owned computers should be protected with an antivirus program of the owner’s choosing. Microsoft Security Essentials is compatible with recent versions of Microsoft Windows, and is freely available from Microsoft’s website. Other available antivirus programs are available from: Malwarebytes, Avira (also available for Macintosh), and Sophos (also available for Macintosh).