Malware Overview For Students and Employees

What is Malware?

Malicious software, also known as Malware, is any software that disrupts normal operation, steals sensitive data or accesses computer systems with the intention to cause harm. Examples of malware include:

  • Computer viruses
  • Trojan horses
  • Worms
  • Spyware
  • Adware

A common way computers get infected is through email attachments or Internet links.

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is a form of malicious software or malware. The software can be covertly installed on a computer without the knowledge of the user. It seeks out files on your computer and encrypts them so that they become inaccessible. The malware operator then demands that the user pay a ransom in order for the files to be decrypted and become accessible again.

The University of Calgary was recently targeted in a ransomware attack. On May 28, hackers attacked U of C systems with ransomware, crippling a portion of their systems and files. The university paid about $20,000 CAD to regain access to their files and unlock their computers. As ransomware is a growing global trend, IT would like to remind the College community to use caution and learn about the risks of ransomware.

How can I tell my computer is infected?

Some common symptoms include:

  • Changes that you did not make, e.g. toolbars appearing on your web browser
  • Unexpected behavior - programs opening or closing by themselves
  • Random pop-up ads appearing even when not using a web browser
  • Computer slows down (NOT always caused by malware)

However sometimes there might be no noticeable symptoms.

What can I do if my computer is infected?

Contact the IT Service Desk immediately for help via our online form in the Knowledge Base, or chat with a technician live at

How can I prevent an infection?

  • Ensure you have an up-to-date antivirus software. All Langara computers have Sophos antivirus software installed. For personal computers, see below for free resources.
  • Avoid opening suspicious mail or mail from unknown senders. In addition, if you receive unusual mail from regular senders, proceed with caution.
  • Don't download or open suspicious files from the web or email. Executable files (typically an .exe file and used to install software) can be a sign that malware is present. 
  • Keep College-related data in network drives. These drives are backed up every night by IT and can be used to restore your computer if it is compromised.
  • Don't visit questionable websites. Limit web browsing to school or work-related issues and exit the browser if you experience pop-up messages you can't dismiss.

Free antivirus software

All Langara computers have Sophos antivirus preinstalled. If you need an antivirus for home or personal use, below are some free options.

Recent Malware to watch out for

Visit this page for information on recent threats: 

File Recovery For Employees Only

Personal and departmental employee network drives get backed up regularly. Most of the times IT will be able to restore files accidentally deleted, overwritten or otherwise lost from network storage space.

  • Backed up data is retained for 3 months
  • There is no backup of local hard drives (C: and D: drives on Windows, local storage on Mac)
  • Faster response time is possible for urgent issues
Email Recovery For Employees Only

All Langara email gets backed up, so IT can restore most accidentally deleted, or other wise lost, email.

  • Daily backups are stored for two weeks
  • Weekly backups are stored for three months

Requests made within two weeks of email loss are more likely to result in successful restoration. Emails deleted on the same day of receiving might not be backed up.


  • Faster response time is possible for urgent issues
  • Employees that have been migrated to the new email system will be able to recover their own email through the Archive. Visit the email section for more information