Information Technology Blog

Tips for Preventing and Removing Malware and Adware

March 17, 2014

Are you getting annoying popup ads or worried that your computer might have a virus?  This article gives tips for preventing and removing malware and adware from computers.

Note:  Some of the following tips such as uninstalling malware programs could lead to inadvertently modifying legitimate and important programs, so if you have any doubts check first with a knowledgeable source like IT support.

  • Malware:  Malware is any program that is designed to damage or disrupt computer systems.
  • Adware:  Adware is any program that displays advertisements on a computer, such as popups.

The tips in this article include practicing safe computing, installing an adblock plugin for your web browser, running antimalware software, and manually deleting malware and adware programs.

 

Practice safe computing

You can significantly reduce the risk of contracting malware and adware by following safe computing practices.  For suggestions on safe computing, see the IT’s Safe Computing article.

 

Install Adblock for your Web Browser

Adblock is a popular web browser program which helps block adware and reduce popups.

Note:  Some websites, such as WebCampus and MyNevada, require popups to function properly.  If you are on a secure and trusted site you can disable Adblock temporarily in order to access the legitimate popup windows.

To download Adblock, do the following:

  1. Google search for the Adblock plugin which applies to your web browser.  For example, if you use the Mozilla Firefox browser, Google search “Adblock Firefox”.
    AdBlock
  1. Access a reputable download website such as CNET or Mozilla.org and follow instructions on the site to download the plugin.

Adblock is available for the major web browsers (Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Mozilla Firefox).

 

Use Malware Removal Software

Malware removal software can help to eradicate malware from your computer.  One common and popular malware removal tool called Malwarebytes allows you to scan for and remove malware from your computer.  For more information personal anti-malware programs, visit our Personal Antivirus webpage.

 

Manually Uninstall Malware and Adware Programs

Sometimes unwanted programs, such as adware, are bundled into free downloads from websites like CNET.  If you notice a sudden increase in popups or strange web browser behavior, you may have contracted an adware or malware program.  You can attempt to manually uninstall mal/adware programs by searching your list of programs to identify and uninstall unwanted programs.

Warning:  There are many important programs on your computer which you can inadvertently uninstall.  If you have any doubts about uninstalling a program, wait and consult with a knowledgeable source such as IT support.

To manually uninstall mal/adware, do the following:

    1. Click the Windows Start button.
    2. Click Control Panel.
    3. In the Programs section, click Uninstall a program.Uninstall a Program

 

  1. Scan the list of programs and look for any suspicious or unrecognized program names.

For example, you may see a program with a suspicious name like AdClicker-AV.

  1. Google search the name of any suspicious programs you find.

Various websites keep collections of malware and adware program names.  If the target program shows up in an online list of malware program names, you can bet that it’s an unwanted program.

  1. In the Uninstall or Change a Program dialog box, double click the unwanted program name to initiate the uninstall process.
  2. Follow prompts to complete the uninstall.
  3. Restart the computer in order for the uninstall to take full effect.

 

Tip:  Check the Installed On date of the program you suspect is adware.  If the install-date of a suspicious program coincides with the start of your computer’s odd behavior, then the program is likely unwanted.

 

 

Security


End of Windows XP Support

February 28, 2014

On April 8th 2014 Microsoft will end support for the Windows XP operating system.

The University of Nevada, Reno’s Information Technology department is actively working to upgrade all XP operating systems on campus.

We are aware of most XP computers on campus. However, if you have an XP machine, and don’t think we know about it, please contact IT Support.

General Information, Security


Out-of-Office Message Security

September 9, 2013

When you are away from your office for an extended period of time, you can set up your University e-mail to automatically respond to all senders with a notification about your absence. The main IT site contains information on setting up of Out-of-Office message.

The automatic reply feature can help communicate your absence to coworkers and customers, but you should also be careful about how much information you include.

In the message of the automatic reply, you should state that you will be out of the office.  However, you should probably refrain from saying that you are on vacation because this implies that your house will be unmonitored.  Potential burglars can use information people post online to know when their houses will be unmonitored.  Instead, just state that you will be out of the office.

An example out of office automatic reply could be:

I will be out of the office from [date] to [date].  In the meantime, please contact [contact] for assistance.  Thank you.

You can use a simple message stating the days you will be out office and alternate contact info senders can contact.

E-mail, Security


On Why We Need To Change Passwords

July 30, 2013

The University of Nevada, Reno asks that students, faculty and staff change their NetID passwords every year.  NetID passwords expire and require changing every year for security reasons.  Passwords provide important protection to accounts, but can also be a source of vulnerability to cyber threats.  The password-change policy ensures that computer security is maintained on a regular basis.

You should change your password if you notice a threat to your account, such as unusual account activity.  Sometimes though, account threats aren’t noticeable.  If someone gained access to your account login information, that person could monitor your computer activity, and you wouldn’t know.  Using your NetID username and password a person could look at your personal information, such as financial information and home address, through MyNEVADA.  A threat to your account might not be noticeable right away.  So, even if your account seems secure, changing your password regularly helps protect against threats.

You can take some steps to keep your password safe:

  • Keep your password secret, and don’t share it with friends, family or coworkers. It’s against NSHE Policy to share your NetID password with anyone.  It’s best not to write your password down either, because the information could be discovered by an unwanted person.
  • Use a different password for each account you have.  Using the same password for multiple accounts increases your vulnerability to hacking.  E.g. say you used the same password for an internet forum and for your NetID login.  A hacker could easily figure out your low security forum password, then use that password to access your more secure NetID account.
  • Make your passwords as long as possible.  The longer a password is the more difficult it is to discover using password hacking programs.  Try using phrases or sentences instead of just single words.  For example, instead of using the short password “S0cc3r”, you could use the longer password “M4nChesterUnitedIsTheB3sT”.

There is information on the main IT website about how to change your NetID password.

 

NetID, Security