Skip Navigation

Tips for Avoiding Malicious Software (Malware)

  • Don't open up unknown attachments or click on links in email.  Even if it looks like the email came from someone you know, make sure that it really did, especially if it is not something that you are expecting.
  • Always use anti-virus software and keep it up to date.  Anti-virus software is available free of charge for the Johns Hopkins community.  More information and downloads available here.
  • Turn off the message preview pane in Outlook.  Outlook's auto preview feature automatically opens and displays the first few lines of email messages in your Inbox.  When the messages are opened they could automatically download malware onto your computer.  If auto preview is turned off, you can delete suspicious email messages before they have a chance to do harm.
  • Don't download files from unknown sources.  Not all web sites are safe.  Before you download anything, make sure that it is coming from a legitimate source.  Be especially cautious if you were referred to the web site by an email message.  Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Look and think before you click.  Malware is often hidden in plain sight through online ads and images that have been exploited and distributed to legitimate web sites.  This can happen even at legitimate web sites that are frequently visited, even for business use. 
  • If you find a USB flash drive, don't plug it into your computer.  It could automatically install software if your computer is configured to autoplay CDs.
  • Don't use unauthorized software.  It might be tempting to download useful-looking software that you can get for free, but these programs can be very risky.  They can display unwanted ads or install spyware, viruses, or other malware.
  • More information about malware.