Emails containing viruses have the potential to cause major damage to computers and servers.

There are steps you can take to reduce risk and potential harm.

Sources of infection

Viruses are also known as worms or Trojans. The most common source of infection is by opening an infected attachment sent by email, and the systems most at risk are Windows systems using Microsoft mail programs. It is important that you never open .zip or .exe attachments, and that you never click on unverified links; please call us us to verify before taking any action on these emails.

A virus will usually attempt to infect other systems, using a number of methods. Like the seasonal change of the flu virus, computer viruses adapt; new variants are created to get around existing security definitions - they are very dynamic. In this way viruses can be very difficult to neutralise and exterminate.

The most prevalent is by mailing itself to addresses found on your computer (for example, address books or received mail messages). Other viruses may infect files held on central servers or probe for unprotected machines connected to the internet.

They can also be introduced from infected documents collected from the network, on thumb drives (USB sticks), CD/DVDs or from infected websites.

Further information

Protection

We recommend you install antiviral software on your computers, both at UWA and at home. Your home computer is your own responsibility.

As well as installing the initial software it is essential that regular updates be collected (daily if possible) as new viruses are added frequently.

An extremely important protection is common sense:

  • Don't have your mail program configured to open attachments automatically
  • Don't open attachments yourself unless you KNOW what they contain
  • Never open .zip or .exe attachments without verifying with IT Services
  • Don't think that because you know the sender it is safe
  • Don't click website links in unsolicited messages
  • If you have a Windows operating system, we strongly recommend you configure at least some part of the "automatic update" system.

While BITS automatically checks for Microsoft updates at least once a month, you can check for yourself at Microsoft if you have a older version of Windows.