E-mail is a great communication tool, but it is also a common transport mechanism for viruses and other exploits. To protect the e-mail system and privacy of our users and to greatly reduce the potential for loss of data and system down time, St. Cloud State University employs several methods to significantly reduce the number of viruses and other exploits that make it into your mailbox.
To find general information about HuskyNet e-mail such as quotas and methods of access, see the HuskyNet e-mail page.
Viruses are dangerous
Viruses and other exploits can corrupt data on your computer, reveal your personal information to others, and many even send virus-infected e-mail to everyone in an infected user’s address book.
SCSU goes to great lengths to protect against viruses and vulnerabilities, but you can take steps to ensure you don’t become a victim:
Using your best judgment will help keep you safe from viruses and vulnerabilities If something looks odd or doesn't seem quite right, it probably isn’t.
Technology abuse refers to general abuse of SCSU’s computing resources. Examples of abuse include physical damage to computers and equipment or using HuskyNet resources in a way that violates law or policy, such as harassing someone online or spamming from an SCSU e-mail account.
Virus definitions are essentially profiles by which an antivirus software program can identify viruses and other exploits. Since new and variations of existing viruses and worms are common, software vendors continuously update their definitions. Be sure to update your virus definitions or schedule them to update automatically.
An e-mail gateway checks all incoming e-mail before allowing it to pass to the actual e-mail server. The e-mail gateway device used by SCSU performs several functions at once such as scanning messages and attachments with antivirus software, blocking certain attachment types and also finding and blocking e-mail coming from sources that are known to send malicious or unsolicited spam e-mail.
The e-mail gateway also provides the ability to filter based on pattern matching. For instance, should a virus be released on the Internet and antivirus definitions are not released yet, our e-mail server and users would be at risk from the new virus. Pattern matching allows for technical staff to create a profile of the e-mail containing the virus based on attributes such as subject or attachment size and type. In massive outbreaks, this reduces the likelihood that a virus can bring down e-mail servers or do damage to users until new antivirus definitions are released from the antivirus software vendor.
To protect the e-mail servers, SCSU uses antivirus software installed on the server itself. This ensures the system is kept clean and not impacted by a virus or other exploit. The antivirus software also scans e-mail looking for viruses that might have slipped past the e-mail gateway. Antivirus software provides an additional line of defense in that it can detect and prevent infection from worms and other viruses entering the system through means other than e-mail.
All campus lab and office computers are protected by antivirus software installed on the individual computers. The antivirus is controlled and kept up to date by a central server, which provides additional assurance that a virus or other e-mail exploit can't infect an individual computer. Should new virus definitions become available to combat a new virus, technical staff can push out the new definitions to all computers automatically. In addition, Microsoft Outlook full client is by default set up to prevent users from opening file attachment types that commonly contain viruses and other exploits.
Many people use campus computers to check commercially provided "free" e-mail accounts such as Hotmail or Yahoo and other personal e-mail accounts. Since the majority of these accounts don't pass through our e-mail gateway or e-mail servers, they might not be checked for viruses or other malicious exploits hidden in e-mail. Antivirus software at the individual computer level helps reduce the possibility that a virus may enter campus through an outside e-mail account. It is strongly encouraged that all network/Internet connected computers use antivirus software and that definitions are kept up to date.