Viruses, Malware and Ransomware

Even if you don’t click on a phishing email link, there are lots of dangerous programs out there that can cause damage to our computer systems.  For Board devices, the IT department has firewalls and security software that are set up to find and stop these programs.  However, once again, sometimes they can still get through.  At home you might not have the same degree of protection on your personal devices, and so they may be at greater risk.  However, in both circumstances, some basic awareness and precautions can help to reduce this risk.

Things that Can Seriously Harm your Computer

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A computer virus is a type of malicious software that replicates itself across a computer network, infecting many devices.  Computer viruses will often install malicious programs on your computer, known as malware.

Malware is any software intentionally designed to cause damage to a computer, server or network.


Ransomware is a particularly nasty type of malicious software that scrambles the data on a computer or server.  The systems are then ‘held to ransom’ and no data can be accessed until the person or company pays a fee (usually in the form of bitcoins) to obtain an unscramble code.  If the ransom is not paid, the data could be permanently deleted.

There are many ways for these programs to find their way onto our computer systems and networks.  One way is downloading so-called free software or movies and music from torrent sites such as PirateBay.  Another is opening an innocent-looking email attachment, which launches a malicious program onto your computer. 

There’s also the risk of clicking on a link in a phishing email.  There are also some websites that will automatically try to download viruses and malware.

Connecting an infected personal device to the Board wired network can also be risky. Malicious software can be programmed to scan the network and attempt to infect devices. There’s also the risk of inserting an infected USB drive into a Board computer. This has the same effect as connecting an infected computer to the network.

There are many ways that you can help to prevent the spread of viruses and malware.


Do not click on links in phishing emails, or open suspicious or odd attachments. If you’re not expecting an attachment in an email don’t open it. Be extra cautious with attachments from external sources. 


Do no use bit-torrents or other ‘free’ software and media sites

Report It

Report your computer to the IT ServiceDesk if it slows down and crashes for unknown reasons. It might be malware running in the background.

Only connect to secured websites which have ‘https://’ at the beginning of the address.

You can also prevent viruses and malware by:

  • Backing up your computer regularly
  • Using a strong password
  • Using a pop-up blocker

Make sure your anti-virus software is up-to-date. All Board computers are loaded with anti-virus software but it does need to be updated regularly with the latest virus signature list to ensure it can detect the newest viruses and malware. Typically being connected to the Internet will permit the anti-virus software to update itself with the latest virus list.

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