Frequently Asked Questions about Viruses

What is a computer virus?
Computer viruses are self-reproducing programs that use various methods of transmission to spread infection from computer to computer.

How are computer viruses spread?
Computer viruses are usually spread through email, by sharing files, or on disks.

How do I protect my computer from a virus?
To prevent the spread of computer viruses and worms, ITS recommends that you install and maintain antivirus software. ITS offers free downloads of Sophos Endpoint Security for Windows (Vista/7/8/10) and Sophos Endpoint Security for Macintosh (10.4 – 10.10) These virus protection programs are available to members of the USC community on the
software download page.

If you believe your system has been infected by a virus, see Removing a Virus.

What is a virus definition?
A virus definition is a file provided by the antivirus software vendor that allows the antivirus program to identify a virus on a computer. Virus definitions are updated frequently.

How do I remove a virus infection?
See Removing a Virus.

My computer was blocked from the USC network due to a
virus. How do I regain access to the USC network?

ITS disconnects infected computers from the network in order to maintain security for the university computing community. To re-establish a connection to the USC network, you will need to do the following:

  • Scan your computer using antivirus scanning software that has been updated with the latest virus definitions.
  • Be sure to remove or quarantine any viruses identified by the antivirus software.
  • Install necessary operating system patches to prevent your computer from being vulnerable to future attacks (i.e., Code Red worm).

Once you’ve ensured that your computer is virus free and secure, please contact the Customer Support Center at 213-740-5555 to re-establish your connection.

What level of support does ITS provide in the
removal of viruses?

Due to the complexity of virus removal, ITS can only support use of Sophos Endpoint Security.

Getting Help

For other questions, please contact the ITS Customer Support Center.