Montana State University
IT Center Home > Enterprise Security > Tip of the Archive > Got a Virus? We can help!

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: Got a Virus? We can help!

Security Tip of the Month graphic
  • If you see the symptoms of a computer virus showing up on your computer, don‘t ignore them, call the Help Desk right away!

What is a computer virus?

  • Computer viruses can be more than just annoying. They are malicious software that, if left unchecked, can damage or delete files, steal information such as your passwords or other important information, or even use your computer to store illegal files or commit other crimes. They can be inadvertently installed onto your computer through infected e-mail attachments, downloaded files or through infected removable storage. Viruses will often replicate themselves and attempt to spread to other computers.

How do I protect my computer from viruses?

  • Prevention is the best way to deal with computer viruses. Be sure to follow these steps to prevent viruses 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.
  • Turn on your firewall! Firewalls are programs that help control access to your computer from the Internet. Turning off your firewall, even for a short time, can make you vulnerable.
  • 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 I have a computer virus?

  • Computer viruses can produce a variety of symptoms. If you notice one or more of the following, contact the Help Desk for assistance.
  • Your computer acting particularly slowly.
  • Icons or software that you didn‘t install.
  • Your computer restarting unexpectedly.
  • Software is deleted or changed without action on your part.
  • Your antivirus software won‘t work properly.
  • Errors that you haven‘t seen before start appearing.
  • If your antivirus software reports a virus, call the Help Desk before doing anything else!

What can I do if I think I have a virus?