Malware is malicious software and includes threats such as viruses, spyware, and adware.
All of these types of software have negative consequences: relaying your personal information to hackers, constantly showing you pop-up ads, using your computer to attack another network, or stealing and encrypting your data to hold for ransom.
The best countermeasures against malware are preventative. Easy, common-sense safety measures can help you avoid the majority of malware infections.
Use an antivirus program
Middlebury-owned computers have the antivirus Sophos installed. This software scans for known malware and prevents those malicious programs from being able to make changes to your computer or access your data. Sophos also notifies ITS staff if it detects malware it can’t remove automatically. It’s a good idea to install an antivirus program on your personal devices as well.
If you need to install a program, download only from reputable publishers
For Middlebury-owned devices, it’s a good idea to use our self-service installation page to install new programs. Otherwise, make sure you’re downloading directly from the publisher (Adobe, Microsoft, etc.).
Be careful what you plug in to your computer
While it make be tempting to plug in a lost flash drive to find the owner or use free flash drives given out at events, this puts your device at risk.
Be wary of email attachments
Don’t download or open anything from an unknown sender. Never open attachments that end in .exe, .bat, .cmd, .com, .vbs, or other extensions you don’t recognize. If one of your contacts sends you something attached to a suspicious email, do not download or open it.
Consider using an ad blocker
Research whether or not an ad blocker would fit your needs, and consider using one. Ad blockers can protect your device from advertising that leads to unsafe websites or runs malicious code.
If you’re worried you might have a malware infection, you might notice the following:
- Pop-ups, especially from unfamiliar programs or warnings that would computer is infected with viruses
- Error messages with fake or unfamiliar filenames
- Cursor moving on its own, unexplained typing, or anything else that indicates someone else has remote control of the device
- Sluggishness, freezing, and crashes (these can also be caused by hardware issues)
If you notice any of these signs, please unplug your ethernet cable, turn off your wireless, and contact the Help Desk for further instructions. We will remove malware from Middlebury-owned devices. While we are not able to remove viruses from personally-owned devices, we can advise you while you do so.
Contact our help desk for more information or for any questions or concerns.