University of California, Riverside

Student Computing Services

Protecting Your Computer


Computer viruses and worms have become increasingly common. However, by being familiar with how they work, and taking basic precautions against them, you can protect your computer from getting infected.

How viruses work

Viruses are frequently spread through email. Many viruses work by collecting email addresses from an infected computer, then sending infected email pretending to be from those addresses. Worms often infect computers that do not have recent software security updates installed.

How to protect your computer:
  • Do not open suspicious attachments. Infected attachments often end in extensions such as .scr, .pic, .vbs, .zip, or .exe, but may have other extensions as well. Never open an unexpected attachment without confirming what it is with the sender. If you do not know the sender, delete it.
  • Do not open or click on suspicious links. These links may take you to websites that will try to install malware on your computer, or forged sites that attempt to obtain your account information.  Never open a suspicious link without confirming what it is with the sender. If you do not know the sender, delete it.
  • Install an Anti-Virus program on your computer and scan your computer regularly.
  • Set your Anti-Virus program to scan all incoming email for viruses.
  • Regularly update your Anti-Virus software, otherwise it will not be able to detect newer viruses and worms.
  • Regularly run Windows Update, or turn on Automatic Updates, and install any critical updates. If you have a Mac run Software Update and install any security updates.

List of anti-virus software options


What is Spyware?

Spyware is software that gathers information about your web-surfing habits for mainly money-making purposes, while taking up memory and space on your computer. Spyware (also referred to as adware or malware) installs itself on unsuspecting users' machines by ‘piggybacking’ on programs people choose to download. Many times the very fine print user agreements mention ‘free’ downloads and services as long as it is agreed the company will use spyware to monitor web habits for business research purposes.

How spyware works

Most spyware does this either by generating pop-up advertising on a computer, hoping the user will click on the ads and make purchases, or by stealing information (either personal information such as credit card numbers or sensitive corporate data) from the computer and passing it on to third parties. Some kinds of spyware, called keyloggers, actually record everything that is typed on the computer and pass that on to a third party.

How anti-spyware works

Anti-spyware software detects and removes spyware from the computer. The software scans the computer and tags the spyware programs for either quarantine or deletion. Many times numerous spyware programs are resident in computers without the users knowledge. As with anti-virus software, anti-spyware software also needs to be updated regularly in order to get the latest version to protect users from the latest variants constantly being produced.

List of anti-spyware software options


More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Student Computing Services
2103 Watkins Hall

Tel: (951) 827-4848 (827-IT4U)