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MSU IT Center

Renne Library Commons
P.O. Box 173240
Bozeman, MT 59717-3240
406-994-1777 |

Chief Information Officer

Jerry Sheehan

Chief Security Officer

Rich Shattuck

Tip of the Month: Your Computer On Malware

Security Tip of the Month graphic

If you see the symptoms of a computer malware showing up on your computer, don‘t ignore them; call the Help Desk right away!

What is malware?

Malware is short for malicious software. This is any software that is used or created by hackers to damage or delete files, steal information such as your passwords or other important information, or gain access to private computer systems. Malware can be inadvertently installed onto your computer through infected e-mail attachments, downloaded files, infected removable storage or even by simply visiting a malicious or hacked website.

How do I protect my computer from malware?

Prevention is the best way to deal with malware. Be sure to follow these steps to prevent malware from infecting your computer!

  • Keep your operating system and software up to date! Always be sure to install updates as soon as they are available. Those updates are often released to fix vulnerabilities that could allow unauthorized access to your computer and files, including the ability to install software such as a virus.
  • Don‘t use accounts with Administrator privileges for day-to-day use. This can make it easier for malicious software to be installed without your knowledge.
  • Be careful about what websites you visit. Less reputable websites are more likely to contain malicious code. Even legitimate websites be hacked or contain infected advertisements.
  • Run current, up to date, antivirus software! Antivirus software can prevent and detect many forms of malicious software and delete them or, better yet, prevent them from ever being installed. To install McAfee for free on any MSU owned or current student‘s computer, visit
  • Never insert removable media such as a thumb drive unless you are sure it is safe. As an extra precaution, on Windows based machines you can hold down the left shift key to prevent any programs from running automatically while mounting a device.
  • Think before you click! Unless you are sure of the validity of the source, don‘t click any links or accept any files while browsing the web or using your e-mail.

How do I know if my computer is infected?

Malware can produce a variety of symptoms. If you notice one or more of the following signs, contact the Help Desk for assistance.

  • Your computer acting particularly slowly.
  • Icons or software appearing that you didn‘t install
  • Your computer restarting unexpectedly
  • Software being deleted or changed without action on your part
  • Your antivirus software not working properly
  • Errors that you haven‘t seen before start appearing

If your antivirus software reports malware, call the Help Desk before doing anything else!

What can I do if I think my computer is infected?

Contact the Help Desk at