Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,

This week, the focus of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is malware.

Malicious software or “malware” is any software designed to damage or disable a computer or computer system, phone, tablet, etc. without the users’ knowledge. Malware comes in many forms and can infect computers in multiple ways.

Common types of malware

Viruses: Although differing in many ways, almost all viruses can self-replicate, enabling them to spread quickly inside a computer and to other computers. Infections can be passed via a network connection, email, or even through removable media like a flash/thumb drive. Often viruses are designed to give their creators remote access to your computer.

Ransomware: Just like the name implies, this type of malware encrypts and locks files on your computer, thereby taking them hostage and then demands a ransom payment to get them back. Infections are often a result of opening seemingly legitimate email attachments.

Spyware: The terms "spyware" and "adware" apply to several different technologies. The two important things to know about them is their ability to:

  • Download themselves onto your computer without your permission (typically when you visit an unsafe website or open an attachment)
  • Make your computer do things you don't want it to do; from the benign, like opening an advertisement, to the malevolent, like stealing your passwords and compromising accounts

Follow these tips to protect your computer from malware

  • Keep software current: Having the latest security software, web browser and operating system on any device that connects to the Internet is the best defense against viruses, malware and other online threats. Remember that MSU provides all employees and students with McAfee. Find out more at
  • When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, tweets, posts and online advertising are often how cybercriminals try to steal your personal information. Even if you know the source, if something looks suspicious, delete it.
  • Plug & scan: Flash/thumb drives and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.

For more details about malware and how to protect your computer, please visit


The Information Technology Center

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