Anti-Virus FAQs

What is a virus?

There are several different types of viruses:

Viruses

A virus is a manmade program or piece of code that causes an unexpected, usually negative, event. Viruses are often disguised games or images with clever marketing titles such as "I love you”, “Me, nude.", “Congratulations” or “Get slim now” etc. Viruses can also replicate themselves.

Trojans

A Trojan horse program is a malicious program that pretends to be a benign application; a Trojan horse program purposefully does something the user does not expect. Trojans are not viruses since they do not replicate, but Trojan horse programs can be just as destructive. Many people use the term to refer only to non-replicating malicious programs, thus making a distinction between Trojans and viruses.

Worms

Computer Worms are viruses that reside in the active memory of a computer and duplicate themselves. They may send copies of themselves to other computers, such as through email or Internet Relay Chat (IRC).

Hoax

Hoaxes are not viruses, but are usually deliberate or unintentional e-messages warning people about a virus or other malicious software program. Some hoaxes cause as much trouble as viruses by causing massive amounts of unnecessary e-mail.

Most hoaxes contain one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Warnings about alleged new viruses and its damaging consequences
  • Demands the reader forward the warning to as many people as possible
  • Pseudo-technical "information" describing the virus
  • Bogus comments from officials: FBI, software companies, news agencies, etc.

(Information from http://us.mcafee.com/virusInfo/default.asp and http://us.mcafee.com/virusInfo/default.asp?id=glossary )

More information on hoaxes

I've received a suspicious email - what do I do?

Attachments

As always, be vigilant of opening attachments in emails, even from people you know.

Most viruses spread when an attachment is opened that contains a virus.

Email Scams

Currently there are many emails circulating claiming to be banks/building societies that require you to log in via a link in the email or request your ID and password. NEVER follow these instructions or email links to the website and always make sure when internet banking, that you have the correct web address for your bank/building society.

You will NEVER be asked to disclose your full internet or telephone banking password to anyone - not even your own bank or building society.

Common scams also include foreign persons asking for money or sponsorship.

There are also emails circulating asking to reply to the email with your full domain username, password and email address otherwise your account will be disabled or deleted. As with the bank scams- NEVER send any username, password or your email address to anyone.

Emails asking you to forward an email to everyone you know are called Hoaxes and can cause massive amounts of unnecessary e-mail. Information on hoaxes

If you receive emails like these and are unsure what to do, then please contact the Information Service Desk before replying to the email.

More information on email scams

Email Address 'spoofing'

If you have recently received an email claiming you have sent a virus from the University email system, then your email address has been 'spoofed'.

Today there are many viruses that use the technique known as “spoofing”. When a certain type of virus or worm infects a machine, it gathers all email addresses from that machine and then uses these addresses to send as the "From:" address. Users then may receive emails of warning or complaint or also undeliverable emails saying that they sent an email or virus to someone, when they never did. In this case the best action is to delete the email without responding to it.