vi·rus

/ˈvīrəs/

noun

a piece of code that is capable of copying itself and typically has a detrimental effect, such as corrupting the system or destroying data

Viruses are often spread by email, either by someone forwarding an infected document to another user or by self-propagating, automatically sending email to everyone in the infected computers address book.  Viruses can erase data or interrupt the computer’s operating system.

Malware is malicious software designed to destroy or capture information on the computer without the owner knowing.  It is usually attached to an email or software. It can also infect a device through fake app downloads and Wi-Fi spoofing.

Reduce the risk of downloading viruses or malware by not clicking on links or opening email attachments that were unexpected and run anti-virus software.

Safety Tips

  1. Don’t click.
    Instead of clicking on any link in a suspicious email, type in the URL or do search on wustl.edu for the relevant department or page. Even though a website and/or URL in an email looks real, criminals can mask its true destination.
  2. Use trusted wi-fi
    When at the café or the airport, you’ll often see many available networks in the area. Be cautious of public wi-fi. Even when accessing a coffeehouse network with a posted password, hackers who also have the password can access your information. Entering social security numbers or credit card information on these networks isn’t advised. Hackers can also create fake networks with deceiving names to mimic the location. Validating the network with staff or through the business’s website is important.

What To Do If You’re A Victim

If you suspect that your device has a virus, contact the Information Security Office immediately at infosec@wustl.edu or 314-747-2955.

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