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Information Technology Services

About Viruses and Virus Protection at BC

About Viruses

A virus is a computer program that runs on your computer and does something annoying or malicious. Some very nasty viruses can destroy data or prevent your computer from working properly.

How does a computer get a virus?

The most common way of getting a virus is from an email attachment. Attachments can be Word files, Excel files, JPGs, GIFs, or any type of file, even small computer programs. The virus starts its work when you open and run these attached files. Learn how to prevent getting an email virus.

The other way to get a virus is from a file. An infected file used on a "clean" computer infects that computer. Please scan your files or disks for viruses before sharing them with others. Learn how to scan your computer or disks for viruses using:

About Virus Protection at BC

While Information Technology Services does scan incoming email messages and attachments for viruses, you should be vigilant in protecting your computer from virus infections and you must be responsible for maintaining your individual virus protection software on your computer. Learn how to prevent getting an email virus.

For useful virus protection resources, go to or These sites have links to product information about VirusScan and Sophos Anti-Virus software, virus updates, virus descriptions, and worldwide virus alerts.

About Anti-Virus Software

BC requires all faculty, staff, and students to use anti-virus software on their computers. The anti-virus software for Windows is McAfee VirusScan and for Mac it's Sophos Anti-Virus. (Get anti-virus software for Windows | Mac OS X.) Once McAfee VirusScan or Sophos Anti-Virus software is installed, it runs in the background. You do not need to do anything to force it to scan your hard drive. It scans your computer each time you start it and when you save files to the hard drive (as long as you followed the installation instructions and did not change the default configuration).

Important: All student owned Windows computers on the Boston College network MUST have McAfee VirusScan Enterprise edition installed. Failure to comply could result in loss of network access. If you are currently using non-supported Anti-Virus software, such as Norton Home, you must remove it prior to installing McAfee VirusScan Enterprise.