Secure Computing

Viruses and Malware

Antivirus @ Yale University

Protection against computer viruses and other 'malware' 

IBM BigFix Protection provides essential protection for your computer against virus infection and infiltration by spyware and other malicious software ("malware") through monitoring, scanning, and scheduled automated updates to definitions. 

Protection for all of your Yale-owned computers

Our license with IBM allows us to install BigFix Protection on all Yale-owned computers.

BigFix Protection provides essential protection for your computer against virus infection and infiltration by spyware and other malicious software ("malware") through monitoring, scanning, and scheduled automated updates to definitions.

If your computer is a Yale ITS Managed Workstation, BigFix Protection will be automatically installed for you.

If your computer is Yale-owned, but not managed by Yale, visit the ITS Software Library to download BigFix Protection now. 

Also, please ensure your operating system software is up-to-date as well.

What is malware?

Malware, short for malicious software, is any software used to disrupt computer operation, gather sensitive information, or gain access to private computer systems.It can appear in the form of executable code, scripts, active content, and other software. 'Malware' is a general term used to refer to a variety of forms of hostile or intrusive software. The term badware is sometimes used, and applied to both true (malicious) malware and unintentionally harmful software.

Malware includes computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, adware, scareware, and other malicious programs. As of 2011 the majority of active malware threats were worms or trojans rather than viruses.

Spyware or other malware is sometimes found embedded in programs supplied officially by companies, e.g., downloadable from websites, that appear useful or attractive, but may have, for example, additional hidden tracking functionality that gathers marketing statistics.

How computers become compromised with malware
  • Over-privileged users (having adminsitrative rights on your device)
  • Malicious macros (automated actions or commands) within Office files like Word documents or Excel spreadsheets.
  • Email attachments, even ones that seem to be from people you know.
  • Web links within in email messages.
  • "Hijacked" or malicious web pages.
  • Browser pop-up windows that urge you to click on links.
  • Flash drives or other removable media.
  • File sharing using "P2P" (peer-to-peer) software.
  • Instant Messaging software.
  • Free and shared software like music players, and other little web utility programs.
  • Software downloads from illegal pirated software sites.
Symptoms of a malware or spyware infection
  • Your computer suddenly starts to behave strangely, requires frequent restarts, or begins showing pop-up ads that aren't related to the website you're visiting.
  • Your browser settings have suddenly changed without your consent. Often malware changes the home page setting on your browser.
  • Your web browser takes you to unfamiliar sites that you didn't choose to navigate to yourself.
  • Pop-ups appear that are unrelated to the sites you normally visit.
  • Additional browser toolbars appear at the top of your browser windows.
  • Your computer seems unusually sluggish and unresponsive.
  • Your firewall and antivirus programs are frequently turned off automatically.
  • You are unable to stop the excessive pop-up windows that appear from nowhere.
  • Applications appear on your machine that you did not install yourself.
  • You get a lot of bounced back email and see evidence of emails being sent without your knowledge.
  • Your system preferences are changed to settings you didn't select.


The answer has two parts: Personal vigilance, and protective tools. One of the most popular ways to spread malware is by email, which may be disguised to look as if it is from a familiar company such as a bank, or a personal email from a friend.

Be wary of emails that ask you to provide passwords. Or emails that seem to be from friends, but have only a message such as "check out this cool website!" followed by a link.

Personal vigilance is the first layer of protection against malware, but simply being careful is not enough. Because business security is not perfect, even downloads from legitimate sites can sometimes have malware attached. Which means that even the most prudent user is at risk, unless you take additional measures.

  • Be cautious when downloading free software or programs
  • Carefully read the end user license agreement or EULA when installing new programs to make sure that no adware and spyware are automatically installed
  • Don’t just download email attachments. Scan everything before saving files to your PC
  • Regularly update your anti-virus and anti-malware tool and scan your PC consistently

  What do I do if I believe my computer is infected?

Contact your local support provider or the ITS Help Desk at 203-432-9000 or