Information Services

West Chester University

Adel Barimani, CIO
Vice President for Information Services
Anderson Hall Room 23
West Chester University

Practice Safe Computing

Information Services has deployed the Command Anti-Virus software package on all faculty and staff computers across campus. This software has also been installed in all of the general access computing labs. Periodic updates to the software are installed to prevent infection from new strands of computer viruses. These updates will be deployed remotely via Winstall software.

Computer viruses were originally created as harmless programs that would do something amusing and then disappear. A virus program contains instructions to initiate some sort of "event" that affects the infected computer. Each virus has a unique event associated with it. These events and their effects can range from harmless to devastating. For example:

  • An annoying message appearing on the computer screen.
  • Reduced memory or disc space.
  • Modification of data.
  • Files overwritten or damaged.
  • Hard drive erased.

There are many types of computer viruses including file viruses, boot sector viruses and Trojan Horse programs.

  • File virus- Most viruses fall into this category. A virus attaches itself to a file, usually a program file.
  • Boot sector virus- These viruses infect floppy and hard drives. The virus program will load first, before the operating system.
  • Trojan Horse- These programs appear to be something other than what they are, for example a "virus" that is disguised as a legitimate software program. Some virus experts do not classify Trojan Horse programs as true viruses, because they generally don't replicate.

Often, a user isn't aware that his or her computer is infected with a virus until the virus executes its unique event, such as displaying an unusual message or damaging a file. It is hard for people to detect viruses because they usually don't display symptoms prior to the event taking place.

However, some viruses will provide early clues that they exist, such as:

  • Changes in file or date stamp.
  • Longer times to load programs.
  • Slower system operation.
  • A program fails to start.
  • An unusual amount of disk activity (the floppy or disk drive runs for no apparent reason).

While there are still viruses that do not harm or destroy, many have become destructive in their intent. Consequently, anti-virus software is compulsory for every computer on campus. By following these few simple guidelines, the risk of a virus attack can be reduced dramatically.

  • Make sure that your anti-virus software is regularly updated to take into account new viruses and variants recently written. WCU computers should be rebooted at least once a week to activate any upgrades.
  • Do not boot your PC from a floppy diskette unless you are certain that the diskette is clean and free from viruses.
  • Use the write-protect tab on a floppy diskette to prevent viruses from copying themselves onto the diskette.
  • Call or E-mail the Help Desk with questions regarding any unusual behavior you detect from you PC.
  • Do not open E-mail messages from strangers or attachments you weren't expecting.

    If you receive an e-mail attachment that your anti-virus software flags, delete it immediately. It is a good idea to play it safe with attachments in general and not open any that aren't from a trusted source. If you receive an e-mail message with an attachment containing a virus you will not infect your system as long as you do not open the attachment.

If you get a virus on your University computer, or if your computer seems to be operating abnormally, please do the following:

  • Write down what symptoms you observe. Was there a warning message? Funny behavior?
  • Call the Help Desk (x3350)

A Help Desk Consultant will assist you with scanning and removing the virus.

To verify that your PC has the Command Anti-Virus running, look in the lower right hand corner of your desktop. You should see the Command icon in the system tray.

Although we cannot provide anti-virus software or support for your home PC, it is essential to provide protection for that equipment as well. Provided for your convenience are the top four anti-virus program web sites. Click on the URL to access more information.

If you have any questions concerning computer viruses, please contact IT Help Desk, x3350 for assistance.

Copyright © 1997 Network Solutions, Inc. This material may be quoted or reproduced provided appropriate credit is given and copyright notice is retained.