Virus/Malware Prevention for Personally Owned Computers

Virus and malware prevention tips and strategies

Anti-Virus Software
Install an anti-virus program and keep it up to date. Antivirus options are available at antivirus.uwm.edu.


Software Updates
Many types of malware takes advantage of published vulnerabilities in software applications and your operating systems files. Vendors frequently publish updates for their products.


  1. Keep your Operating System up to date. Follow your operating system software instructions.
  2. Update non operating system software as well. It has become critical to patch, not just the operating system, but applications as well. Of particular importance are applications that are commonly leveraged by browsers such as Flash and Acrobat Reader. Most updates can be either downloaded from the manufacturer's website or directly from the application using an update function built in to the software.

Browser Selection
Using Firefox with some security focused add-on's can help you control scripts, pop-ups and sidebar advertisements on websites.


  1. No Script allows the user to control JavaScript and other web functionality programming which, while it adds functionality to websites, can also be used for malicious purposes.
    http://noscript.net/
  2. Flashblock allows the user to choose when to run flash animations, some of which could be malicious. http://flashblock.mozdev.org/
  3. AdBlock blocks many advertisements commonly displayed on webpages. Most of these are simply annoying, but some are used to attempt to deliver malware.
    http://adblockplus.org/en/

Computer Permissions on Windows Computers
  "Administrator" rights on your computer should be used only when necessary. Browsing the internet while logged in with lower privileges can help reduce your malware risks. A Windows application called "dropmyrights" can be used to reduce the privileges used by common web applications.

http://download.cnet.com/DropMyRights/3000-2144_4-10722877.html

Avoiding Email-Borne Viruses
In addition to some of the precautions above, avoiding email viruses can also be impacted by being aware of how to avoid them:


  1. Avoid opening an email attachment file if you don't know EXACTLY what it is, do not know the person who sent it or were not expecting it (even if you do know the person who sent it). This rule especially applies to files with ".vbs", ".pif", ".scr", ".bat" and ".exe" extensions and all files with a double extension suffix (e.g., ".bat.exe").
  2. The safest practice is simply to delete ANY unknown files you're sent upon receipt. Please do not overburden email servers by sending each suspected virus to IT staff. Simply delete suspicious emails and attachments.
  3. If these steps seem too extreme, write back to the person who sent it to you and ask them what it is. (If that person's system is infected with a worm/virus, they may not even know they're sending out the file!) If the attachment is valid, they'll tell you what it is and what it does.
  4. Scan ALL attachments for viruses before opening the file.