University of California, Riverside



What is a Virus and Anti-virus software?

A computer virus, much like a biological virus, infects a host and tries to spread itself. Computer viruses usually spread via email, malicious web sites, or operating system (i.e. Windows or Mac OS) exploits. Anti-virus software protects email, instant messages, and other files by removing viruses and worms. Anti-virus software downloads new virus protection updates to protect against new threats. It also quarantines infected files to keep a virus from spreading and can repair infected files so the files can be used without fear of damaging the computer or spreading a virus to other computers.

What is Spyware and Anti-Spyware software?

Spyware is software that gathers information about users web-surfing habits for mainly money-making purposes, while taking up memory and space on each computer. Spyware (also referred to as adware or malware) installs itself on unsuspecting users machines by ‘piggybacking’ on programs people choose to download. Many times the very fine print user agreements mention ‘free’ downloads and services as long as it is agreed the company will use spyware to monitor web habits for business research purposes.

Most spyware does this either by generating pop-up advertising on a computer, hoping the user will click on the ads and make purchases, or by stealing information (either personal information such as credit card numbers or sensitive corporate data) from the computer and passing it on to third parties. Some kinds of spyware, called keyloggers, actually record everything that is typed on the computer and pass that on to a third party.  As with anti-virus software, anti-spyware software also needs to be updated regularly in order to get the latest version to protect users from the latest variants constantly being produced.

How does Sophos protect me from viruses?

Sophos Anti-Virus, like its competitors Norton and McAfee, works in two ways: it prevents viruses from executing, and it removes them if it finds that one has already executed. In order to do this, Sophos maintains a database of known viruses and how to remove them, and updates the anti-virus program periodically to ensure that the computer is protected from the newest threats. Sophos constantly watches the computer, and when it notices a virus trying to execute its code, Sophos will stop it from running and quarantine the file (i.e. lock it up in a special directory where it is unable to harm the computer). Sophos can also be run by the user if an infection is suspected; it will scan the files and folders on the computer, stop any viruses from running, and remove the associated files to the quarantine.

It is important to have antivirus software on the computer to protect not only the computer from damage viruses can cause, but the havoc caused to the campus network. Some viruses are malicious and destructive causing destruction to an individual’s data and can also bring a network to a near halt.

How does Sophos protect me from spyware?

Much like anti-virus software, antispyware software works in two ways to protect the computer: it watches the computer and stops known spyware from installing itself, and it removes spyware that has already been installed. When Sophos removes a spyware program, it stops it from executing and quarantines the associated files so they can no longer harm the computer.

On Microsoft Windows machines, it is also recommended to install in conjunction with Sophos, Windows Defender from Microsoft for added protection from spyware.  This program is pre-installed on Windows Vista and Windows 7 machines, however, Windows XP machines will have to install the software.

How do I get the Sophos software?

Downloads of Sophos anti-virus have been made available to all campus computer users as well as home, staff and faculty machines.

Note: Sophos replaces any existing anti-virus product, such as Norton AntiVirus. Remove any existing anti-virus software Before installing Sophos. See Instructions for un-installing Symantec AntiVirus.

In addition, UC Riverside has antivirus software on its central mail server that scans and removes infected messages before downloading email to the individuals computer.

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Computing & Communications
Computing & Communications Bldg.

Tel: (951) 827-4741
Fax: (951) 827-4541