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Tips from the Help Desk: Free Ways to Protect Your Computer

March 11, 2014

Sometimes it seems that we spend more time defending our computers than actually using them to be productive. To make it easier, we've put together a list of free tools that can help keep your computer clean and running fast. We've also included a short description of common threats faced by computer users today. If you have any questions about using the tools below or about protecting your devices in general, feel free to contact the ITS Help Desk at 618-650-5500.

Types of computer threats:

  • Adware: A software that automatically displays pop ups and ads on your computer in order to generate money for the software author.

  • Virus: A type of program that replicates itself by placing copies in critical system files.  A computer virus is often designed to perform key logging, spamming your email contacts, causing damage to your computer or just displaying a message to the user.

  • Trojan Horse: A program that claims to be something useful like antivirus software, but is actually a virus itself.

  • Spyware: A malicious software that allows a third party to gather information about you and your computer.

Free tools to protect your computer:

  • ComboFix is an automated program that will remove fake antivirus programs with generic names like “Antivirus 2013.” Combofix can be downloaded at: http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/combofix/dl/12/

  • Microsoft Security Essentials is a free antivirus program from Microsoft. It is included with Windows 8 but is available for older versions of Windows at:  http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/security-essentials-download

  • People often think that they do not need an antivirus program if they are using a Mac.  While viruses are much less prevalent, we still suggest that you protect your computer.  One program that we recommend is Sophos. Residential students and University employees can download the software for free from the ITS website at: http://www.siue.edu/its/antivirus/index.shtml

  • Malware Bytes Anti-Malware is an excellent on-demand virus scanner.  It does not run all the time like your regular antivirus program, but is an excellent tool to use if your computer is running slowly or you are worried about a virus.  Malware Bytes Anti-Malware is available at: http://www.malwarebytes.org/mwb-download/

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