As with any large network, security is a top priority for the MSBTC. We provide our end-users with some solutions to keep their computers secure.
Malware is malicious software that is designed to damage, disrupt, and gain unauthorized access to system resources, among other abusive behaviors. Some malware takes control of computers and sends spam email Ė others steal passwords for email accounts and other sensitive information like credit cards or social security numbers. There are many symptoms of malware, and the list below is by no means completely inclusive.
A computer virus is a type of malware that propagates by inserting a copy of itself into and becoming a part of another program. It spreads from computer to computer, leaving infections along the way. Almost all viruses are attached to an executable file (.exe extension), which means the virus may exist on a system but not be active or able to spread until the user runs or opens the malicious host file or program. Viruses spread when the software or document they are attached to is transferred from one computer to another using a network, a disk, file sharing, or infected email attachments.
- Computer freezes consistently
- Files and folders seem to disappear or will not open
- Windows does not start even though you have not made any system changes or you have not installed or removed any program
- Computer starts occasionally. However, at times, the computer stops responding before the desktop icons and the taskbar appear
- Computer runs very slowly, and the computer takes longer than usual to start
- Windows spontaneously restarts unexpectedly
- Programs that used to run stop responding frequently even after you remove and reinstall the programs
- You cannot start Windows Task Manager
- Unusual messages or displays on screen
Spyware is software that installs itself on a computer in order to collect small pieces of information about users without their knowledge. Spyware can monitor or even take control over the computer. It can collect personal information such as internet surfing habits or change settlings and install other software.
- Default or start-up homepage is changed without permission of the user
- Webpages get directed to strange sites when searches are performed
- There are excessive pop-ups that appear from nowhere that cannot be stopped
- There are strange icons and new shortcuts lurking in your taskbar
- There are an unusual amount of new favorites not made by the use
- There are lots of bounced back emails or there is evidence of emails being sent without your knowledge
- The browser is noticeably slower than normal
A rootkit is software that enables continued privileged access to a computer while actively hiding its presence from administrators. It seizes control over the operating systems and allows the attacker to act as administrators.
- Frequent OS crashes on systems that have usually been reliable
- Antivirus software automatically disables itself
- Standard security tools canít find any malware. This is due to the fact that rootkits run in stealth mode with files hidden from view but still operating
A work is software that replicates functional copies of itselves and can cause the same type of damages as viruses. In contrast to viruses, worms are standalone software that does not require a host program or human intervention to propagate. To spread, worms either exploit a vulnerable area in the target system or use some kind of social engineering to trick users into executing them. The worm then enters through the vulnerability in the system, and takes advantage of file-transport or information-transport features on the system, allowing it to travel unassisted.
- Account lockout policies being reset automatically
- Certain Microsoft Windows services such as Automatic Updates, Windows Defender, and Windows Error Reporting disabled
- Websites related to antivirus software or Windows Update service becoming inaccessible
- User accounts locked out
A Trojan is a piece of software that infiltrates the system by disguising itself as legitimate material. Users are typically tricked into loading and executing it on their systems much like the tactic the Greeks used to infiltrate Troy. After the Trojans are activated, they can achieve a number of attacks on the host ranging from irritating the user by popping up windows or changing desktops to damaging the host by deleting files, stealing data, or activating and spreading other malware. Trojans are also known to create back door to give malicious users access to the system.
- Usual messages appear that encourage the user to purchase a fake antivirus program (A quick Google search will show whether or not the antivirus program is legitimate)
- Computer screen flips upside down or inverts without user instruction
- Wallpaper or background settings change by themselves
- Documents or messages print on your printer by themselves
- Windows color settings change by themselves
- Screen saver settings change by themselves
- Mouse pointer disappears
- Mouse moves by itself or starts leaving trails
- Windows Start button disappears
- Computer starts reading the contents of your computer clipboard
- Task bar disappears
Ransomware is a type of malware that restricts access to the infected computer system and demands a ransom paid to the creator of the malware in order for the restriction to be removed.
Most ransomware makes messages similar to the one shown above. The messages threaten the user with legal action, and usually includes an official seal, such as an FBI logo, or some other government agency.
If you suspect your computer has been infected by malware, try running one of the malware scans we recommend on the Tutorials page. If you are still having trouble, stop by the tech center where we can run more sophisticated scanning software.
The best way to deal with malware is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. There are many ways you can take preventive measures against Malware:
A Firewall is an essential part of any set of computer security measures. Windows OS comes with its own Firewall by default, but you should ensure that it's working and enabled. If you're not sure how to do this, visit our Tutorials page.
Malware typically exploits vulnerabilities in software to install itself on to machines. By keeping a computer regularly updated, security vulnerabilities can be fixed. Windows update is available through the control panel under the System and Security category. Mac updates can be conducted by going to System Preferences and clicking on Software Update under "System".
The MSBTC requires every computer on our network to have up-to-date anti-virus software to protect both your computer and our network from any potential attacks.
The University offers Symantec Endpoint Protection for Windows and Mac
systems. It can be obtained through the GU Software Webstore at:
http://uis.georgetown.edu/ordering/software. The software is free for
University faculty, staff and students, and is available to install on any
and all machines you may use.
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Quick Security Tips
As a business student, you can assume a "Reasonable Expection of Privacy" with regards to your interactions on the Georgetown network. Unless authorities specfically request data with proper documentation, no one but you will have access to your network folders or email transcripts.
With that said, however, we do have a strict policy with regards to how you maintain the privacy of your MSB account information. Students will be sent to the Student Judiciary Committee for review if they are:
- Caught sharing their account information with other students
- Leaving a computer logged in after leaving a workstation
You and only you are expected to know your account information. Please be responsible with this sensitive information.
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- Realize that you are an attractive target to hackers. Donít ever say ďIt wonít happen to me.Ē
- Practice good password management. Use a strong mix of characters, and donít use the same password for multiple sites. Donít share your password with others, donít write it down, and definitely donít write it on a post-it note attached to your monitor.
- Never leave your devices unattended. If you need to leave your computer, phone, or tablet for any length of time, no matter how short, lock it up so no one can use it while youíre gone. If you keep sensitive information on a flash drive or external hard drive, make sure to lock it up as well.
- Always be careful when clicking on attachments or links in email. If itís unexpected or suspicious for any reason, donít click on it. Double check the URL of the website the link takes you to: bad actors will often take advantage of spelling mistakes to direct you to a harmful domain.
- Sensitive browsing, such as banking or shopping, should only be done on a device that belongs to you, on a network that you trust. Whether itís a friendís phone, a public computer, or a cafeís free WiFi, your data could be copied or stolen.
- Back up your data regularly, and make sure your anti-virus software is always up to date.
- Be conscientious of what you plug in to your computer. Malware can be spread through infected flash drives, external hard drives, and even smartphones.
- Watch what youíre sharing on social networks. Criminals can befriend you and easily gain access to a shocking amount of information including where you go to school, where you work, when youíre on vacation, etc. that could help them gain access to more valuable data.
- Offline, be wary of social engineering, where someone attempts to gain information from you through manipulation. If someone calls or emails you asking for sensitive information, itís okay to say no. You can always call the company directly to verify credentials before giving out any information.
- Be sure to monitor your accounts for any suspicious activity. If you see something unfamiliar, it could be a sign that youíve been compromised.
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For any device being handed out or being used in conjunction with Georgetown systems, these are the strongly recommended security essentials:
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