HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Holyoke Community College (HCC) is closed Monday after a suspected malware attack over the weekend.

According to HCC’s spokesperson Chris Yurko, staff from the IT department is working to clear the network while students are on Spring Break this week.

“HCC is responding to a suspected malware attack, and the college’s IT specialists are now working to clear our network. We have closed the college for the day (Monday, March 14) to ensure they have full and unimpeded access to all our computer systems and to protect students, faculty and staff from potential problems. We expect our systems to be fully restored shortly and for HCC to return to normal operations. The good news is that HCC is on spring break this week so the disruption to students should be minimal. Classes are expected to resume as scheduled on Monday, March 21.”

Chris Yurko, Media Relations Manager at Holyoke Community College

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), malware includes viruses, spyware, ransomware, and other unwanted software that gets secretly installed onto your device. Criminals can access information on devices to steal sensitive information, including demanding payment to unscramble data encrypted by ransomware.

The following information from the FTC includes how to recognize and avoid malware.

How To Know if You Have Malware

Look for unusual behavior from your phone, tablet, or computer. Your device might have been infected with malware if it

  • suddenly slows down, crashes, or displays repeated error messages
  • won’t shut down or restart
  • won’t let you remove software
  • serves up lots of pop-ups, inappropriate ads, or ads that interfere with page content
  • shows ads in places you typically wouldn’t see them, like government websites
  • shows new and unexpected toolbars or icons in your browser or on your desktop
  • uses a new default search engine, or displays new tabs or websites you didn’t open
  • keeps changing your computer’s internet home page
  • sends emails you didn’t write
  • runs out of battery life more quickly than it should

How Malware Gets on Your Device

Criminals work to get malware on your devices so they can steal personal information, like your usernames and passwords, bank account numbers, or Social Security number. They use this information to commit identity theft. If you think someone may have stolen your information or identity, visit IdentityTheft.gov.

Malware can get onto your device when you open or download attachments or files, or visit a scammy website.

How To Avoid Malware

Scammers try to trick people into clicking on links that will download viruses, spyware, and other unwanted software — often by bundling it with free downloads. Here are ways to avoid malware: · Install and update security software, and use a firewall. Set your security software, internet browser, and operating system to update automatically. · Don’t weaken your browser’s security settings. You can minimize “drive-by” or bundled downloads if you keep your browser’s default security settings.

  • Read each screen when you install new software. If you don’t recognize a program, or are prompted to install bundled software, decline the additional program or exit the installation process.
  • Get well-known software directly from the source. Sites offering lots of different browsers, PDF readers, and other popular software for free are more likely to include malware.
  • Pay attention to your browser’s security warnings. Many browsers come with built-in security scanners that warn you before you visit an infected webpage or download a malicious file.
  • Instead of clicking on a link in an email or text message, type the URL of a trusted site directly into your browser. Criminals send phishing emails that trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment that could download malware.
  • Don’t click on pop-ups or ads about your computer’s performance. Scammers insert unwanted software into pop-up messages or ads that warn that your computer’s security or performance is Avoid clicking on these ads if you don’t know the source.
  • Scan USB drives and other external devices before using them. These devices can be infected with malware, especially if you use them in high traffic places, like photo printing stations or public computers.