Antivirus Software: How To Protect Yourself Against Viruses

This article provides information on protecting yourself from viruses, malware, and other malicious software. This includes good protection software to have, helpful tips, and what to do next if you think you've been infected.

The University's recommended anti-virus software for unmanaged computers is now Sophos. Symantec support was discontinued in May 2022.

Staff: Antivirus software is already managed on work machines – you will not need the software listed below.

Antivirus Software

Active Defenders

  • Windows → Sophos Home is offered by the University for free.
  • Windows 8/10 → Windows Defender is the default antivirus software on Windows 8 & above.
  • MacOS → Sophos Home is also offered for MacOS by the University.


  • MalwareBytes scans your computer for any potential malicious or suspicious software & processes.
  • AdwCleaner targets malicious software specifically designed to redirect web pages or cause popups.

Helpful Tips

Be Aware of Sites & Attachments

As computers become more networked and standardized, it gets easier and easier to catch computer viruses. You can get viruses from downloads over the internet, from opening e-mail attachments, or from another infected system or device.

Many self-propagating viruses will mail themselves to you before the original sender has discovered that his/her machine is infected. Be suspicious of any attachment, but be extra-vigilant about inappropriate subject lines and attachment titles (for example, if someone you barely know sends you an e-mail called "ILOVEYOU").

Backup Data Frequently

Some viruses are so damaging that they will render your files useless or unrecoverable. In that case, your only hope of recovery is with back-ups made prior to infection.

Update, update, update!

Microsoft & software developers frequently releases patches to fix known issues for their services. These fixes include known security issues that may leave your computer or program vulnerable to viruses and other attacks. To update your operating system, follow the instructions on Microsoft's Windows Update website at

Sophos Home

The University of Pennsylvania offers free antivirus software to students in the form of Sophos Home. Below are the links to download this software along with some Frequently Asked Questions. 

Download Links

Wharton Computing recommends using this software on MacOS devices. Windows 8 & 10 devices are already protected by the built-in antivirus software, Windows Defender.

Note: If you're still running Windows 7, Wharton Computing recommends updating to Windows 10 for optimal performance.

Windows 10
Windows 10
Symantec logo

Sophos Home for Windows

Windows Defender logo

Windows Defender

Symantec logo

Sophos Home for Mac

Sophos Home FAQs

What if I already have anti-virus software? 

If you are satisfied with your current antivirus software and are able to update the virus definition files on a regular basis then you can continue the use of your current anti-virus software but might need an additional anti-spyware program. If you are not able to update the virus definition files or your antivirus subscription is expired you will need to switch to Sophos Home.

Why should I switch to Sophos Home?

The university pays for a Sophos Home subscription that includes virus definition updates and spyware scans in addition to virus scans. It is also supported by Wharton Computing, so you will be able to get assistance with the program should you encounter any problems.

Will I get technical support if I switch to Sophos Home

Yes, Wharton Computing offers support for Sophos Home and will be able to help you install and configure the antivirus software.

If your computer has a virus... (Students)

If you think you have a virus, please stay calm & follow the directions in our Virus Removal article. We also encourage you to call, email, or drop by our Support Office (SHDH 114) in-person so we can help with the situation. 

Faculty & Staff should contact their Academic Representative or IT Support below. 


Students: email

Faculty: contact your Academic Distributed Representative (login required).

Staff: email