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Department of Medicine IT

Malware Information and Prevention

What is Malware?

Malware is an application that gets installed on your computer without your knowledge and that can adversely effect the behavior of your system. This behavior can come in the form of extra ads or pop-ups, modifying the results of a search in your browser, or collecting information. Essentially malware is a special type of virus, however unlike a virus they are coded to appear like legitimate programs.

The most common way that devices get infected with malware are by downloading files from fake websites, opening attachments from unsolicited email, or following links to infected/malicious websites. For example if an unexpected email is received (even from someone you recognize) and that email is linking to a website or requesting you to open an attachment we should be automatically suspicious, and if it looks like it may be legitimate contact that person directly (not replying to the email or following the links provided) and inquire about the message that was received.

Malware DOs

  • If the context of the message doesn't make sense, delete the message or call the sender to verify the email.
  • Be wary of messages that ask you to update your password, confirm your account, or provide other personal information
  • Report any warning messages from your Antivirus or suspicious behavior to your IT support group
  • Minimize the confidential information stored directly on your device, use network storage or UW OneDrive for Business
  • Encrypt the data and your devices. The Department of Medicine IT Services can provide assistance and advice for properly securing personal or work devices.
  • Keep your operating system and software up to date (stay patched).

Malware DON'Ts

  • Don't open attachments from unknown sources
  • Some malicious popups or websites will warn of a virus infection, however the links provided are either malicious software or a phishing attempt. Do not click these links.

Malware Handout: https://depts.washington.edu/domis/docs/malware.pdf