Computer Security and Malware Prevention

A malware infected computer can lead to poor performance, identity theft, fraud, and costly repairs. You can greatly decrease the chance of your computer becoming infected by following the basic security recommendations below.

Security Basics

Update your computer frequently to eliminate security vulnerabilities

  • Use automatic updates whenever possible.
  • Be sure to update installed programs such as Firefox, Adobe Reader, Java, iTunes, etc.

Use antivirus (anti-malware) software to catch common malware

  • Set up your antivirus to automatically update and scan your computer on a schedule
  • Use a second, on-demand scanner that you can run when you think you may be infected

Don’t open links or attachments in suspicious and unexpected email

See our Email Security page for more information on phishing attacks.

Use strong, unique passwords

  • Use passwords that are at least 10 characters in length (12+ preferred)
  • Don’t use the same password on multiple websites, e.g., don’t use your Michigan Tech password for non-Michigan Tech sites)
  • Consider using a password manager to keep track of your passwords for you

Browse cautiously

  • There are a lot of malicious website that will try to infect your computer as soon as you visit them, so minimize surfing and try to stick to sites you know and trust.
  • Consider using ad blocking software to prevent malicious ads from attempting to infect your system.

Keep User Account Control (UAC) enabled (for Windows users)

Be cautious anytime UAC asks for permission. UAC will ask for permission every time you need to run a program as an administrator. Only trusted programs should be allowed to run as an administrator.

Related Resources

Flexera/Secunia PSI - Scans your computer for installed software that has known vulnerabilities.

Ninite.com - Installs or updates the software that you choose. Put this in your startup folder to update software each time you login.

Microsoft Security Essentials - Basic antivirus for Windows 7 and older systems (built-in for Windows 8 and newer)

Malwarebytes - Easy to use malware removal tool

Spybot - Search and Destroy - Another good malware removal tool that also offers an “immunization” feature to proactively block known threats

Adblock Plus - Block annoying and potential malicious ads

Microsoft EMET - Consider installing EMET and using “Maximum Security Settings” to block some of the unknown (0-day) malware

LastPass.com - Online password manager.