FAQs

Virus Protection and Disinfection FAQs

File Recovery FAQs

 

Why do I need to update my operating system (Windows or Mac OS)?

System updates are distributed by the publisher of your operating system. For example, Microsoft distributes updates for the Windows operating system. Meanwhile, Apple distributes updates to the Mac OS operating system. These systems are designed to fix known bugs in the software and provide additional features. Some of the fixes include patches for vulnerabilities that have been discovered in the operating system. Thus, it is important to update your operating system on a consistent basis to ensure it stays protected.

Back to Top

Why do I need to update my antivirus and anti-malware software?

As with operating systems, companies that publish antivirus and anti-malware software also release regular updates. As hackers continue to release new threats, the companies continue to research ways to nullify them. In order to ensure that your computer is protected against the latest strains of viruses and malware, it is important to update your antivirus and anti-malware software on a consistent basis.

Back to Top

Why do I need to disable auto run functionality on my computer?

The auto run functionality of many operating systems is a feature built in for your convenience. Thus, when you put a movie DVD into your computer, it will automatically play the movie, rather than requiring you to open a program that reads DVDs and selecting the drive where the DVD is located. While this is a convenience, it is also a vulnerability. For example, if you plugged an infected jump drive into your computer, it would automatically run infecting your computer. With the auto run functionality disabled, you could plug in the device and scan it with your antivirus and anti-malware software prior to accessing the data stored on it to ensure an infection is not transferred to your computer. The auto run functionality for campus computers has been disabled to prevent this vulnerability. However, by default, home computers have this functionality enabled. The instructions for disabling this functionality can be found in our Guides for Home section.

Back to Top

Why do I need both antivirus and anti-malware software?

There is a common misconception that all computer infections are viruses. In actuality, viruses are just one of many types of malware (malicious software) that can infect a computer. Depending on the nature of a particular malware infection, a number of symptoms may be experienced. Some of the common types of infections and their symptoms are listed below:

  • Viruses - Viruses are infections that can copy themselves to other computers through media such as USB jump drives and e-mail attachments. They are capable of causing damage to data and system files. Common symptoms of virus infections include malfunctioning software or hardware and decreases in overall system or network performance.
  • Worms - Worms are infections that attempt to spread themselves, often without user interaction, to other computers on the network. Common symptoms of worm infections are large amounts of data being sent out from a computer.
  • Trojans Horses - Trojans horses are infections that are hidden inside what appear to be legitimate and harmless software packages. Common symptons of trojans horses include the installation of software without the user's authorization, such as a toolbar that appears in a web browser without the computer's owner being aware of the installation.
  • Adware - Adware are infections that attempt to display pop-up windows for the purposes of advertising. Users should be wary, as some adware will attempt to disguise itself as an antivirus notification message in order to scam users into buying fraudulent virus or malware removal software.
  • Spyware - Spyware are infections that will hide themselves on a user's computer in order to steal and transfer information to another source.
  • Rootkits - Rootkits are infections that will hide themselves on a user's computer in order to allow a hacker from another location to take complete control of processes that are running on the computer.

Antivirus software specifically targets and removes viruses. While they may have components that can scan for other forms of malware, their removal capabilities are not as strong as those found in dedicated anti-malware software. Likewise, anti-malware software may have virus removal capabilities, but they will not be as strong as those of dedicated anti-virus software. In order to ensure that you are applying the highest level of protection available, it is important to run both an up-to-date antivirus and separate up-to-date anti-malware software package on a computer.

Back to Top 

Can I continue to use my computer if it has become infected?

If your computer becomes infected and you cannot disinfect it immediately, you can continue to use it. However, we would strongly recommend against transferring files (such as via jump drive or e-mail attachments) from this computer to another device or computer, as it may likewise transfer the infection. Also, our network will take countermeasures if it detects an infected computer by quarantining the computer and preventing it from accessing the internet in order to prevent the spread of infection.

Back to Top 

How often should I update and run my antivirus software?

Most antivirus software packages have a built-in automatic update features. This way, when the publisher of the software releases a new update, your antivirus software will look for and download it automatically as long as you have a connection to the internet. However, many anti-malware software packages do not have an automatic update feature. Thus, we recommend to check for updates at least twice a week. For details on updating anti-malware software, please review the guides in our Guides for Officesand Guides for Home sections.

Back to Top 

How often should I update my operating system (Windows or Mac OS)?

Both Windows and Mac OS have a built-in automatic update notification feature. This way, when the publisher of the operating system releases a new update, a pop-up will appear notifying you that it is available for download. We would recommend to download these updates any time they become available. For details on system update notifications, please review the guides in our Guides for Offices and Guides for Home sections.

Back to Top 

How can I learn more about viruses and other forms of malware?

For lists of the latest forms of infections, virus research center notes, and additional information regarding viruses and other forms of malware, please visit the Valdosta State University Antivirus Resources page.

Back to Top 

What should I do if my office computer is infected?

If your office computer begins exhibiting symptoms that are indicative of a virus or malware infection, please contact the Information Technology Helpdesk (helpdesk@valdosta.edu, 229-245-4357) to place a work order for on-site assistance. Symptoms include, but are not isolated to:

  • System or network slowness
  • Pop-up advertising
  • Your web browser is directed to a different web site than the one you are attempting to visit
  • Errors when running software
  • Messages from TrendMicro Officescan stating that an infection has been detected but cannot be removed

Back to Top 

Can computers in campus computer labs become infected?

While computers in computer labs can be infected like any other computer, we run a program in these labs called Deep Freeze. This software resets all settings and files stored on computer every time it is restarted. Thus, we strongly recommend restarting a lab computer before use to ensure any infections have been removed.

Back to Top 

What should I do if my home computer is infected?

If your home computer begins exhibiting symptoms that are indicative of a virus or malware infection, please update and scan your computer with our recommended home protection and removal software. If this fails to remove the infection, please contact theVSU Tech Shop (techshop@valdosta.edu, 229-219-1398). The VSU Tech Shop's hours are Monday through Thursday 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM and Friday 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM. Symptoms include, but are not isolated to:

  • System or network slowness
  • Pop-up advertising
  • Your web browser is directed to a different web site than the one you are attempting to visit
  • Errors when running software
  • Messages from AVG Free Edition or other antivirus software stating that an infection has been detected but cannot be remove
  • Appearance of software that you did not install

Back to Top 

Why are different products recommended for home and office protection?

Different products are recommended for home and office protection due to license restrictions by the publishers of the software. For example, TrendMicro Officescan is an enterprise-level antivirus which is paid for by the university and only licensed to cover computers owned by the university. Thus, we cannot make it available for home computers and instead, we recommend AVG Free Edition, as this software has been tested and verified to not only provide strong antivirus protection but to also not conflict with any campus services, such as BlazeVIEW (online course system) and Hallnet (residential network).

Back to Top 

Is there a cost for the recommended antivirus and anti-malware protection products?

The antivirus and anti-malware software we recommend for home computer protection are provided by the publishers free of charge for personal use.

Back to Top 

Can other forms of media such as CDs and jump drives become infected?

Transportable media such as CDs and jump drives can become infected. This is particularly important to keep in mind, as often, they are the cause of infections being transferred from one computer to another. The IT Helpdesk offers disinfection services for jump drives. If your jump drive begins exhibiting symptoms that are indicative of a virus or malware infection, please bring it by the IT Helpdesk located on the second floor of Odum Library next to the Circulation Desk during our normal operating hours of Monday through Thursday 8 AM - 9 PM, Friday 8 AM - 5 PM, Saturday 11 AM - 5 PM, and Sunday 1 PM - 9 PM. Symptoms include, but are not isolated to:

  • Plugging the jump drive into the computer causes it to crash or restart
  • The jump drive reports that it is unreadable

Back to Top 

Can mobile devices, such as cell phones, become infected?

Mobile devices, such as cellular phones or personal digital assistants can also become infected. If you encounter symptoms indicative of a virus or malware infection, most of these devices have methods of resetting the device to factory settings. Please contact your cellular service provider or the manufacturer of the device for steps to do so.

Back to Top 

What should I do if I receive a pop-up notification telling me my computer is infected?

If your computer notifies you through a pop-up notification that your computer has become infected, the most critical step is toensure that this is a legitimate notification message. Many forms of malware disguise themselves as virus or malware removal software in order to scam users into paying them to "disinfect" the computer. In order to recognize whether a pop-up notification is legitimate, please verify that it is coming from the software you have selected to protect your computer. For example, on campus PC computers, the only legitimate notifications are those provided by TrendMicro Officescan. Likewise, if you are running AVG Free Edition for your home computer protection, notification messages you receive from other sources are not legitimate.

If you encounter a scam such as this, do not provide any personal information, credit card numbers, etc. Instead, please follow the steps in the sections listed below in order to report or remove the infection:

Can the IT Helpdesk recover files off of a bad hard drive?

If the computer is not owned by VSU, we will be unable to recover lost files due to limited resources and the amount of time it would take to recover a bad hard drive.

Back to Top

Can IT do file recovery for VSU-owned equipment?

IT will do file recovery on VSU-owned computers. Please contact the IT Helpdesk if you have lost data.

Back to Top

If the jump drive is physically damaged, can files be recovered?

If the jump drive is physically broken, we will more than likely be unable to restore the files.

Back to Top

Will my computer's hard drive last forever?

No, hard drives generally only last 3-5 years before needing to be replaced.

Back to Top