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Computer viruses, malware, spyware, phishing and scams

Computer viruses, malware and spyware can enter unprotected systems via many methods, such as:

  • Opening email attachments without scanning them first; and opening links contained in emails that are suspicious.
  • Staff using files from USB drives, external hard drives and DVD/CD media from a source outside USQ without scanning them first.

To protect USQ computers from viruses, all computers and laptops used at USQ must have virus protection installed, with automatic updates scheduled. It only takes one unprotected computer for a virus outbreak to occur causing hours of lost work time and IT resources in tracking, cleaning and restoring any disrupted services and systems. 

How do I know if I have a virus?

When configured correctly, your virus software will clean and/or remove most viruses. If this has not happened and you believe your computer is infected:

  • Contact the ICT Service Desk immediately, so that measures can be taken to remove the virus and identify any other affected computers and external drives/media.
  • Do not send a global email message alerting your friends and colleagues. In many cases you may be the victim of a hoax which can be quickly identified when you contact the ICT Service Desk who are experienced in these matters.

How do I minimise threats?

The following guidelines are provided to assist you in implementing a successful threat protection and detection strategy. Remember that the ease at which computer threats can be introduced onto your computer will depend on your ability to implement these simple steps. Each staff member is responsible for their computer. It is your responsibility to ensure that you scan your computer regularly and that you adhere to the following guidelines.

  • Configure your virus software to scan your computer hard disk regularly for viruses to ensure that your computer is not infected. This check should be performed at least every week.
  • Identify any possible virus intrusion points such as outdated versions of Java or other software where viruses are more likely to enter your computers. 
  • Scan any external drives prior to using them or copying any program files contained on an external drive.
  • Electronic mail messages and Internet file transfers may contain files that could potentially carry viruses. Scan these files prior to using them on your computer.
  • Ensure that you have backup copies of any of your critical information. Remember that you can store critical information on your network disk drive.
  • Do not utilise programs and Trojan software such as ‘Registry Cleaner 2017’ or ‘SpeedUpMyPCPro 2017’. These programs are not legitimate and infect your computer even requesting credit card payments from the user for no benefit to the system performance.

Adware, spyware, scareware, and viruses

Avoid downloading free software unless you are certain it's from a reputable company. Free programs are often a device for delivering malware such as adware, spyware and viruses. Be careful of sites that tell you to install a new "plug-in" or "media player" to continue.

Another way criminals try to snag users is by offering "malware protection" through a message that pops up saying a virus has already been detected on the user's computer (hence the term "scareware"). Instead of fixing the "problem," users end up downloading a virus ladened piece of software. Install virus protection software and make sure your firewall is turned on for added protection.