A computer virus is a piece of software which has been written by someone with the specific intention of disrupting the normal operation of a computer or network.
Computer viruses are usually written in such a way that they are capable of spreading from one computer to another and from one network to another.
Viruses can seriously affect the 'health' of a computer and by so doing they have the potential to severely affect any work which users are trying to do on a computer or network which has been 'infected' by a virus.
Viruses may have varying effect on computers and networks. At one extreme the only effect may be that a mischievous message appears on a screen once and is never seen again, there may be an intermittent malfunction of a computer or, at the other extreme, there may be a complete loss of all data and systems files on a computer or network. A computer or network may be out of action for a significant period of time following the introduction of a virus. The consequent loss of staff or student work stored on such a computer can be devastating to the user.
Viruses are most commonly introduced to a computer system by either downloading software or documents which contain a virus from a source on the internet or by inserting a disk which already has a virus on it.
Internet sites often offer an opportunity to download material. If this happens - be careful. If the internet site is not instantly recognisable as a reputable site e.g. a government department or public company then exercise caution.
Occasionally you may receive a message which tells you that, in order to receive a download, you must first load a piece of enabling software. If this happens, ask a responsible person for guidance.
Games software which has been copied or downloaded, screen savers which have been downloaded and email attachments are recognised as prime sources of computer viruses. Users are required to assume that all downloadable games, screen savers and email attachments, as well as games software which has been copied to a disk, are capable of carrying viruses.
The downloading of games and screen savers or any other installation of such software by users of University of the Arts London computers/ networks is specifically prohibited. Email attachments must be subjected to virus checking software.
University of the Arts London takes precautions against computer viruses through its use of virus checking software. The effectiveness of these precautions will be greatly enhanced if individual users were to recognise the mutual interest which they have in protecting University of the Arts London computers from such viruses. Your cooperation is essential if the threat is to be minimised.
Further information on relevant legislation and codes of conduct which govern computing and IT usage are available from college libraries. These include:
- Computer Misuse Act 1990
- Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988
- Data Protection Act 1984
- Libel Laws
- University of the Arts London Code of Conduct for the Use of Software and Datasets
- Obscene Publications Act 1956
All authorised users are granted access to relevant aspects of the computing and IT facilities of University of the Arts London: Use of computing facilities will be affected through the provision of passwords which will enable access to personal email, worldwide web and personal disk space.
Collectively these aspects form the user account.
This Code of Conduct for the use of software and datasets has been customised from draft guidelines (version 2) issued by CHEST and NISS August 1992.
This Code of Practice is pursuant to the requirements of the Education Act 1994 (Clause 22(3)) in relation to Students’ Union and other local arrangements as agreed between the Court of Governors, University of the Arts London and the Students’ Union (SU).