Protecting Your System

Help Protect Yourself and Westchester Community College Against Viruses

To help prevent viruses from spreading to and from any of your computers, you can follow the basic principles used to protect on-campus computers:

  1. Be sure that you have virus protection software such as Norton AntiVirus, McAfee VirusScan or Microsoft ForeFront installed on your computer, and that:
  • Your software’s license is up to date
  • The program is set to download automatically the latest virus definitions at least once a week.
  • The program is set to scan each file that you open.
  • The program performs a complete scan of your system at least once a week. The document Automating Virus-protection Updates and Scans contains detailed procedures for getting maximum protection from your anti-virus software.
  1. Be sure that your Windows operating system has all the critical updates installed, and that Windows checks for new updates automatically.
  2. If you have a cable or DSL connection at home, you may wish to acquire a hardware or software firewall that you can configure to prevent intrusions from unknown machines. For more information on what firewalls do and how they work, see http://computer.howstuffworks.com/firewall.htm. The two most popular anti-virus software vendors – Symantec (Norton AntiVirus) and McAfee (VirusScan) also offer firewall software. In addition, the following site gives information about free firewall software: http://www.free-firewall.org.

The first two guidelines are the minimum necessary to protect your computer from viruses. The third provides another layer of protection and helps keep computer hackers from invading your computing environment.

In addition, you should follow other safe computing guidelines:

  • Don’t open e-mail attachments unless you know both the person who sent it and the reason it was sent. Some viruses are spread via attachments that seem to come from legitimate addresses but are simply means of spreading the virus. When in doubt, don’t open the attachment without checking with your correspondent first. And be sure your virus scanner checks the attachment automatically before you open it.
  • Don’t download files from Web sites unless you are sure the files are virus-free; reputable Web sites usually certify that their files do not contain viruses.
  • Avoid sharing files with other computers either via removable media or via electronic services unless you are confident that the source is trustworthy.

For other safe computing guidelines, see the following Web sites:
http://www.microsoft.com/security/
http://www.claymania.com/safe-hex.html
http://www.sophos.com/virusinfo/articles/safehex.html
http://www.trendmicro.com/en/security/general/guide/overview.htm
http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,113175,00.asp

In addition, the site http://www.windowsupdate.com provides a three-step guide to ensuring that your personal computer is secure from virus and hacker attacks.

Or search the Web for the phrase “safe computing” to find a list of sites with good advice.