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Virus Precautions and Hoaxes

Recent viruses can send infected email messages from an infected computer and make the messages "look" like they came from you.  This can be particularly confusing when a user asks you why you are sending virus infected messages when, in reality, you don't even have an infected computer.  Here is an example of how confusing these viruses can be:  John, Mary, and Sue all know each other.  Mary's computer gets infected with a virus and sends an infected email to John that "appears" to come from Sue.  John calls Sue and tells her that he received an infected message from her even though Sue's computer isn't infected.  This happened because Mary's infected computer had John and Sue's email addresses in the addressbook and then started sending forged emails with fake return addresses.

Observe the following guidelines to minimize risk from computer viruses and spyware and to prevent propagation of hoaxes:

1) If you receive documents or spreadsheets through email attachments, answer "NO" if asked to enable macros when loading the file (unless you are sure the sender is giving you a clean file).

2) Do not execute any programs received through email attachments unless you are sure of the sender.

3) Keep your antivirus definitions up-to-date. Contact the User Support Helpdesk if you think your definitions are out of date.

4) Scan your computer for "spyware" (programs that might track, display, or transmit information without your consent). Keep your spyware scanning software updated with the latest vendor patches. Click on the following FREE spyware scanning program:
    Ad-aware program installer

5) Keep your computers updated with the latest vendor patches. Windows users should keep up with patches at http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com. If you are running Windows XP (Home or Professional edition), we urge you to install Service Pack 2 for XP. If you are running an older version of Windows (such as Windows 95, 98, ME or 2000), we urge you to upgrade to Windows XP.

Please bear in mind that computer viruses and computer hoaxes often rely upon email to wreak havoc. Please do not be a part of this havoc by overusing the email system to notify other users. System managers will generally take responsibility to notify their customers.   Virus notifications should be forwarded to helpdesk@winthrop.edu.

If you wish to know how to distinguish between genuine viruses and computer hoaxes, a reputable source can be found below and on the Symantec website. Hoaxes are listed at http://www.symantec.com/avcenter/hoax.html. Descriptions of real viruses are found at http://www.symantec.com/avcenter.   Another reputable source of information is the CERT Coordination Center at Carnegie Mellon. (http://www.cert.org click "What's New").

Other Hoaxes

Numerous hoaxes circulate on the Internet.  Anytime you see a message that asks you to "tell everyone you know," then it generally means that the message is a hoax intended to overuse email systems and networks.  If you were to email everyone you know, and they email everyone they know, and so on, millions of unnecessary messages may be generated.  The ultimate goal of these hoaxes is to overuse email systems to the point that they crash email servers or halt network traffic!   These messages often promise money or good luck.  Others often threaten with viruses or pending legislation.

If you receive a message that appears to be a hoax, offensive, or in violation of law or University policy, please forward the message to helpdesk@winthrop.edu for analysis.

 

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CONTACT INFORMATION
Computing & Information Technology
15 Tillman Hall
Rock Hill, SC 29733
803/323-2400
803/323-2580 (fax)
helpdesk@winthrop.edu
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