Antivirus software helps protect data and keep your machine virus free
A computer virus is a program or code that is designed to carry out a malicious activity when executed. Viruses can capture information and passwords, tamper with or destroy information on your computer, or cause your computer to attack other computers. In any event, you don't want a virus on your computer.
Computer viruses can be easy to get. You can accidentally infect your computer with a virus by clicking email attachments and links that are infected, visiting questionable websites, or inserting removable media (e.g., USB sticks, CDs, DVDs) into your system that is infected with a virus. The first line of defense is to be discerning and only open files and follow links from trusted sources, but even files from trusted sources can unknowingly be infected.
There is something you can do to help protect your computer against viruses. Installing antivirus software can help detect and stop viruses that you may inadvertently activate before they do harm. Antivirus software can scan your system for viruses and it can check program you execute on your computer for known virus patterns, known as “signatures”. If a virus signature is detected, you will be notified and given options regarding what to do with the offending software. While anti-virus software can detect and stop hundreds of thousands of viruses based upon known signatures, keeping your system’s virus signature file up to date to handle newly developed viruses is critical to keeping your system safe. Antivirus vendors typically update and download their signature files to your protected systems on a daily basis.
At Princeton, we programmatically ensure that University-managed systems have antivirus software installed and that their signature files are up-to-date. But ensuring that you have up-to-date, anti-virus software on systems not managed by the University, such as any personally owned system you may have, is your responsibility. For personal systems, depending on the software you choose, keeping your antivirus software up-to-date may involve an annual subscription charge from the vendor and, if you use software that has a subscription charge, it is critical that you renew it before it expires.
For more information, see the tutorial on Viruses and other forms of malicious software and Antivirus Software: Answer to Frequenty Asked Questions (FAQ).
For more information about antivirus options for your home computer, contact the OIT Help Desk at 258-HELP.