Viruses and Malware

What is Malware? And Virus vs. Malware

A virus is a piece of code that is capable of copying itself in order to do damage to your computer, including corrupting your system or destroying data. Malware, on the other hand, is an umbrella term that stands for a variety of malicious software, including Trojans, spyware, worms, adware, ransomware, and yes, viruses. So the logic follows: all viruses are malware. Not all malware are viruses. Source: Malwarebytes.

What should I know?

Your computer may be infected with malware if it:

  • Slows down, malfunctions, or displays repeated error messages;
  • won't shut down or restart;
  • serves up a lot of pop-up ads, or displays them when you're not surfing the web;
  • and/or displays web pages or programs you didn't intend to use, or sends e-mails you didn't write.

What can I do?

Protect yourself from the wort-case scenerios.

Make sure you are backing up all your data to an external hard drive or to the cloud, such as; Google Drive, Crash Plan, or Drop Box. 

  • Mac - How to backup your data using Time Machine on a Mac computer
  • Windows - How to backup your data using Genie timeline on a Windows computer
  • Cloud Backup Solutions:
    • Google Drive - (All current Students, Faculty, and Staff at the University of San Diego get unlimited storage space via Google drive)
    • Crash Plan - The University offers crashplan for faculty and staff upon request. There is a fee to the department and approval from the requesting department head is required. To get crashplan for your department, faculty, staff, or to get more information and pricing information, please email
    • iCloud - iCloud gives you 5GB and: 50 GB: $0.99 (Per month), 200 GB: $2.99 (Per month), 1 TB: $9.99 (Per month)
    • Dropbox - Basic accounts start with 2 GB of free space. You can earn more free space in a variety of ways. For example, by referring your friends to Dropbox, you can earn up to 16 GB of additional space. or 9.99 per month or $99 yearly for 1TB

Update your operating system and Web browser software regularly.

Use anti-virus software. USD has a comprehensive site license for Norton’s Symantec virus protection software, for Windows and Macintosh. Download it free here (MySanDiego login required): Virus Updates

Use a firewall.

Download free software only from sites you know and trust.

Don't click on links inside pop-ups or in unsolicited e-mails.