Protect Your Computer - Viruses and ResNet

There are many different types of viruses that can infect your machine when it is connected to the Internet. ResNet users, in particular, are especially prone to computer viruses because their machines are connected to the Internet for long periods of time on extremely high speed connections. Viruses can be contracted through executable e-mail attachments, downloaded programs, and MS Word documents, among other sources. While many viruses are benign some are quite malicious and have the ability to destroy data on your computer or to use your computer as a host to attack other machines.

Scanning your computer with an up to date virus scanning package at regular intervals is recommended. Many packages are available free of charge (see below) and can be used to detect and clean most viruses.

Personal Virus Protection

ResNet users should also stay up to date with virus protection.

If you do not already have an anti-virus program installed, UBC students using ResNet can obtain a copy of Sophos Anti-Virus for free.

Other Anti-Virus programs include:

Personal Firewall Protection

Individuals might consider running a personal firewall product such as:

What to do about Network Abuse?

When you connect your computer to the Internet, you are connecting to it to millions of other computers. Use common sense and don't get a false sense of security. Be very careful of the applications that you download and install on your computer - just as you are careful about who you invite into your home.

The application that you install might do more than you think and may open back doors. This is one of the biggest threats on the Internet and the number of attacks using end-users as the victims is on the increase. Once you have an "unwanted visitor" they have control and can do anything that you can with your computer. This includes viewing anything on your screen and recording the keystrokes which you type on secure Web sites. They can even turn on your microphone and listen to all the conversation around your computer.

What's the best way to protect yourself? Prevention. This type of attack software doesn't just grow on your computer. It's introduced there by someone else or by other software. Be very, very careful of what you or others install on your computer. Once a trojan is installed, it might not be detected even by the newest antivirus detection software. Also be careful about the version of Web browser you use and the sites you visit. Always install browser patches as soon as they become available to decrease your chances of having problems.

If you think you are infected, the only way to be 100% sure that you are "clean" is to backup important documents (which you should do on a regular basis anyway!) and reinstall the system from CDROM. The original CDROM from the software manufacturer is read-only and cannot be tampered with. Anything else on your system can be affected and tampered with. The latest virus checker might help by attempting to clean the system but it's not 100% sure of system integrity.

Once you reinstall your system, install a new version of antivirus software and consider installing one of the latest "personal protection" software packages.

Monitoring the Network

We are constantly monitoring the network for abnormalities. For some departments, restrictions and firewalls are installed to block nasty traffic and attacks. But even this is no protection against the latest crop of trojan attack programs.

On other networks, including ResNet, there is no protection or filtering at all. The level of connectivity is the same as if you were connected from home via Cable Modem or ADSL (just faster). Also, it should be noted that installing trojans, or using trojans to control other computers from ResNet, is not considered appropriate use of ResNet and can lead to the sanctions outlined in the ResNet Service Agreement.