Your Frequently Asked Questions
What's the difference between malware, spyware, adware, Trojans, viruses, and worms?
- Malware is a general term, describing all malicious software that infiltrates your computer without your consent. Spyware intercepts (or 'spies on') your interactions with your computer. For example, it could keep track of what websites you have visited, redirect your browser to malicious sites, or take note of passwords that you type.
- Adware is usually more annoying than dangerous. It simply downloads and displays advertisements on your computer screen.
- A trojan is a type of malware that conceals itself as a legitimate application, tricking users into installing it. Some trojans even claim to be antivirus programs, so always be wary of what programs you download and install!
- Viruses act much like their biological counterpart, spreading from program to program. Some viruses even modify themselves as they transmit, making them harder to get rid of. However, they can only be transferred to a new computer when an infected file is copied over.
- Worms, on the other hand, can transmit themselves to new computers without any help. A worm sends out copies of itself through the network, which risks the security of your computer and data and also takes up a lot of bandwidth.
Why is security so important? What are the minimum security standards?
We place such an emphasis on security to provide the best Internet experience to all students on the network. When one computer has security problems, it can affect the usage of others on the same network. In addition, the University's network infrastructure is an enormous hub for a great deal of traffic in California, and therefore we must maintain the integrity of the devices connected. The minimum security standards include having an antivirus program, a firewall, the latest operating system updates, and passwords for all administrator accounts.
How can I protect my laptop from physical theft and myself from identity theft?
To protect yourself from identity theft, make sure that you have a strong password that is difficult to guess. Be sure to never include any publicly available information in your password, such as your name, your birthday, or your address. Also, only install programs from sources that you trust and be wary of fake sites that ask for your personal information. To protect your computer from physical theft, you can use a computer lock (usually priced between $5 and $30). Attach the lock to a heavy, solid object (such as a desk) and connect the other end to your laptop. You can also buy laptop tracking software, which sends out a beacon through the Internet to help you find it in the event of a theft.
What does it mean to have my Internet shut off for a "security vulnerability"?
The campus systems and network security team continuously scans for security vulnerabilities on the network, such as default passwords, unprotected network shares, and missing Windows or Mac OS X patches. The reason for these stringent security scans is the same as above: we want to protect you against a possible route of infection in order to prevent information/identity theft and to preserve the integrity of our network. After all, the easiest way into the UC Berkeley network is through an unsecured computer.