Social Sciences Computer Lab AntiVirus Info



Introductory information on virus software
What antivirus software is best for your computer?
Scan Engines and DAT files
Configuring your anti-virus software
Hunter Licensing Information and Other Resources for use at Hunter and at Home
How to Find Information on New Viruses

Anti-Virus Software as a Class or Type of Software

Just as there are many different spreadsheets (MS Excel, Lotus 1-2-3, Calc, etc.) and many different word processors (MS Word, Wordperfect, Writer, etc…), there are many different software manufacturers that produce Anti-Virus software. The two largest vendors of anti-virus software, Symantec (Norton Anti-Virus(NAV)) and Network Associates (aka McAfee), control about 60%-80% of the market, with Computer Associates (CA InnoculateIT) coming in a distant third. Hunter has a site-license for McAfee, but some computers come with NAV pre-installed, and the sysadmin in the Biology department prefers to use CA's InnoculateIT.

Unlike other types of software, anti-virus software from one manufacturer does not typically co-exist peacefully with anti-virus software from another manufacturer. If a computer has NAV or InnoculateIT installed on it already, these should be removed before installing McAfee (the software supported by Hunter). If an end-user prefers to keep NAV or InnoculateIT, this is their prerogative, but it should be made clear that Hunter only supports McAfee.


Back to Index


McAfee Product Lines, Platforms and Software Version Information

"McAfee" is the retail name for the anti-virus subsidiary of Network Associates, Inc. McAfee has two product lines for Windows: 1) a corporate/educational product line, which Hunter uses, and 2) a retail product line that individuals can buy. As is the case with most product manufacturers, McAfee is continually producing new and more up-to-date versions of these product lines to guard against new and more up-to-date viruses.

Thus, there are multiple VERSION NUMBERS of this software in use at Hunter. As faculty and staff, our job is to make sure that the computers at Hunter are running the most current VERSION NUMBER that their respective operating systems (OS) allow. (A computer running a specific OS is sometimes referrred to as a "platform", as different versions of the software are required for different platforms.) For example, below is a table listing the most common operating systems in use at Hunter and the most recent versions of McAfee anti-virus software that is compatible with each system --as of November 2004. But be aware of the fact that these versions may change often. Thus, in the future, to be certain that you have the most recent anti-virus software, you can visit the McAfee home page:


Computer Type Operating System(s) Most recent McAfee version
PC Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 98SE (Special Edition) and Windows ME (Millenium)
(These are all based upon what is called the Windows 95 Kernel).*
VirusScan (VS) Version 4.5.1
Service Pack 1**
(with the Hotfix if necessary.)
PC Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000 (aka NT 5.0), Windows XP and Windows 2003
(These are all based upon what is called the Windows NT 4.0 kernel).*
VirusScan Version 8.0.0
MAC*** Mac Classic, that is, OS 9.2.2 or lower Virex Version 6.1
MAC*** Mac OS X, that is 10.0 or higher Virex Version 7.5
Linux/Unix According to McAfee, Hunter doesn't currently license this product.  
Novell/NT Server   Netshield Version 4.6.1. ****

*Microsoft has discontinued support for the Windows 95 kernel, so software vendors such as McAfee have stopped developing new software for it. Version 7.0.0 or higher of McAfee will only run on versions of the Windows OS that are based on the NT 4.0 Kernel.
**Windows XP requires that Windows XP Service Pack 1 be installed in order for VS Version 4.5.1 SP1 to work properly.
***Hunter does not support Mac computers.
****This product is being phased out.


Back to Index



Back to Index


Updating Software Versions: Scan Engines and DAT versions

Anti-virus software manufacturers not only come out periodically with new VERSION NUMBERS (or VERSIONS) of their software, but they regularly produce downloadable UPDATES for this software (the update numbers are the same, regardless of which VERSION of McAfee you are using). There are two ways that McAfree updates their anti-virus software: 1) through SCAN ENGINES and 2) through DAT files (also known as Data files or Virus Definitions).

New Versions of Scan Engines are made available every 2-6 months. The most recent Scan Engine Version for ALL Versions of McAfee (versions 4.5.1, 7.0, and higher) is Version 4400 (as of November 2004). Instructions on how to update your Scan Engine are listed below.

DAT files/ Virus Definitions
New DAT files are generally made available about once a week. However, during times of high virus activity, new DAT files may be made available several times a day. Luckily, your anti-virus software can be configured to check for, and download, these updates automatically.


Back to Index


Configuring Your Anti-virus Software

Given the information above, there are three things you will want to configure your anti-virus software to do, if possible.
You will want to configure your software to SCAN your files for potential viruses.
You will want to configure your software to automaticaly check for and download UPDATES.
And you will want to -if possible-- configure your software to check for new versions of your SCAN ENGINE.

For instructions on configuring the anti-virus software on your computer, click below on the McAfee version used by your Hunter College computer.

McAfee Version 4.5.1
McAfee Versions 7.0.0 or higher
Back to Index


VS 4.5.1 SP1 Configuration

Configuring 4.5.1 to scan for viruses
Configuring 4.5.1 to Auto-Update
Updating the 4.5.1 Scan Engine
Creating an On-Demand Scan for McAfee 4.5.1


Configuring 4.5.1 to scan for viruses

Nick's theory, here in the SSCL, is that once you are sure your computer is free of viruses you really only need to scan files that you access to ensure that your computer does not "catch" any viruses. Thus, you will at the very least want to configure your software to perform an "On Access" scan. To do this in Version 4.5.1, find the anti-virus shield and magnifying glass in the lower right hand corner of your computer (next to the time). These icons should look something like this:

As long as your "V-Shield" looks like that above, your computer is scheduled to scan files as you access them. However, if your V-Shield appears with a red circle through it:

(kind of like this, but with the magnifying glass next to it as well), then you should right-click on the V-shield. A pop-up menu will appear with one option entitled "Quick Enabler". This option will allow you to turn the on-access scan back on, as well as to select which types of files you want scanned (such as email, etc.). [If you have had viruses on your computer in the past and want to set up your computer to scan more than this, click here]

We recommend that you keep the On-Access scan on at all times.


Back to Configuring 4.5.1   |  Back to Index


Configuring 4.5.1 to Auto-Update

Unfortuantely, McAfee 4.5.1 only allows you to schedule one auto-update task (as opposed to McAfee 7.0 or higher, which allows you to schedule multiple auto-update tasks). To create this task, or to view one that has already been created, right-click on the icon of the magnifying glass:

A pop-up menu will appear. Choose "Restore" and this should bring you to a dialogue box entitled "Virus Scan Console." (shown below)

Once in this dialogue box, look under the list of tasks for something named "Autoupdate."

If you cannot find a task named "Autoupdate," go to the Task drop-down menu and select "Task Properties." Before scheduling your Auto-Update, check to make sure that your computer is going to the correct website to look for updates. Do this by clicking your mouse on the button entitled "Configure." This should bring you to another dialogue box (entitled "Virus Scan AutoUpdate") like the one shown below:

Be sure that the Site "Network Associates" is on top of any other sites listed. If it is not, highlight it and hit the button "MoveUp." Then click on the tab entitled "Advanced" and make sure that your computer is set to autnoatically check for new updates to the scan engine (as well as updates to the virus definition files/ DATs).

Click on "OK". The dialogue box should close and you can now schedule your auto-update task by clicking on the "Schedule" tab in the Task Properties dialogue box. If your computer is regularly restarted, you may want to select for your computer ro check for auto-updates "on startup". However, if you tend to leave your computer on for days at a time, a better option would be to schedule a daily time that you computer will check for auto-updates.


Back to Configuring 4.5.1   |  Back to Index


Updating the 4.5.1 Scan Engine

The last thing that we did just prior to scheduling an Auto-Update task was to make sure out computer was set to automatically update the scan engine. However, it is also a good idea to periodically check manually (maybe every 4-6 months) for scan engine updates. To do this (for Hunter computers), you can go to: Under "Download Products UPdates and Upgrades" click on "Business User." Then under "Software Updates," click on "Scan Engine." Agree to the downloading conditions (if you are asked), and finally under "Engine Updates" click on "Engine-only Superdat File (intel)" --you should be downloading Engine "4400." (The most recent Engine as of November 17, 2004). Save the file to your desktop. Once it is saved, double-click on the icon to install it.


Back to Configuring 4.5.1   |  Back to Index


Creating an On-Demand Scan for McAfee 4.5.1

To set your computer up to scan more than this, you will want to schedule one or more "on demand" scans. To do so, right-click on the icon of the magnifying glass. When the pop-up menu appears, choose "Restore." A dialogue box should appear that is titled "Virus Scan Console," such as that shown below.


Look at the list under the "Description" heading. If there is already a task in this list labled "Scan..." double click on it. (As you can see, in the image above, there are two scan tasks: "Scan My Computer" and "Scan Drive 'C'".)

If there is not already a scan task under the "Description" list, you can create one by either right clicking in the box, or by clicking on the Task menu and selecting "new scan" from the drop down menu.

Either way, you should now be looking at a window something like this:

To schedule a task from this window, click on the "Schdeule" tab.

From this window you can schedule your computer to scan for viruses with any of the available options.


Back to Configuring 4.5.1   |  Back to Index



VS 7.0 Configuration

Configuring McAfee 7.0 or higher for On-Access scanning
On-Demand Scanning with McAfee 7.0 or Higher
McAfee 7.0 and Higher to Auto-Update Virus Definition files (DATS)
Updating Your 7.0 Scan Engine


There are two ways that you can scan your computer for viruses: using an "On-Access" scan and using an "On-Demand" scan. The On-Access scan checks for viruses in only those files that you are accessing (thus saving time); while the on-On-Demand scan checks your entire computer (or floppy, or zip) for viruses. Nick's theory here in the SSCL is that, as long as you have the "On-Access" scan operating at all times, you should be reasonably protected from viruses. However, it is still a good idea to run an "On-Demand" scan periodically just to be safe.


Configuring McAfee 7.0 or higher for On-Access scanning

Checking -and changing- your computer's On-Access scan settings is easy. Simply locate the "V-Shield" in the lower-right hand corner of your desktop (by the clock).

As long as the V-Shield does not have a red circle in front of it (below)

then your virus software is set to run On-Access scanning. However, if your V-shield DOES have the red circle over it, right click over the V-Shield and select "Enable On-Access Scan." The circle should disappear, and your computer should begin running scans of every file that you access.

The only reason for the OnAccess scan to ever be disabled should be if someone is installing software on your computer (since the anti-virus software may interfere with this installation). If you have others install software on your computer, you will need to check periodically to be sure that the On-Access scan has been turned back on after software installation.


Back to Configuring 7.0 and higher   |  Back to Index


On-Demand Scanning with McAfee 7.0 or Higher

To run an On-Demand scan, right click again over the V-Shield and select "On-Demand Scan...". From this dialogue box you can select what drives you want scanned (on the "Where" tab) and specify what action you want your computer to take if it finds a virus (on the "Detection" and "Action" tabs). Once you have selected the options you prefer, click on the "Start" button and the scan will begin. On-Demand scans can sometimes take a while.


Back to Configuring 7.0 and higher   |  Back to Index


Configuring McAfee 7.0 and Higher to Auto-Update Virus Definition files (DATS)

Unlike McAfee 4.5.1, versions 7.0 and higher allow the user to schedule multiple Auto-Update tasks (each task scheduled will search for updates for your anti-virus software). To schedule a task, right click on the V-Shield (shown above) and select "Virus-Scan Console..." from the pop-up menu.

Once you are in the Virus-Scan Console, you will first want to make sure your settings are correct. So, go to the "Tools" menu and select "Edit AutoUpdate Depository List" from the drop-down menu. This will bring you to a dialogue box like that shown below.

For the most reliable updating, you need to make sure that the Repository Description labeled NAIHttp is AT THE TOP of the list (you can move items by selecting them and clicking on "move up" or "move down"). You will also want to make sure that the boxes next to both items are checked.

Once you haveboth boxes checked and the NAIHttp item on top, click on the button labeled "OK". This will return you to the Virus Scan Console, where you can now schedule Auto-Update tasks.

In the Virus-Scan Console dialogue box, You may find that there is already an Auto-Update task scheduled. The Auto-Update tasks appear with little gas-pump icons next to them (as in the image below).

To view a task that is already in your console's task list, double click on the task. This will bring you to the Virus Scan Autor-Update Properties dialogue box.

To create an Auto-Update task, go to the task menu and select "New Update Task" from the drop down box. You will be prompted to name the task and then brought to the Virus Scan Auto-Update Properties dialogue box.

In the dialogue box, you will be able to select options in the "Update options" section (as is recommended, all are selected in the image above).

To schedule an Auto-Update task, click on the "Schedule.." button. A new dialogue box will open. Under "Schedule Settings" put a check in the "Enable(scheduled task runs at specified time)" box, and then click on the "Schedule" Tab. From here, you can select the scheduling options of your choice.

We recommend that you schedule at least two Auto-Update tasks: 1) a task that runs when the computer is re-started (or, if you do not regularly restart your computer, a task that runs upon log-in might be a better choice. AND, if you always keep your computer on and always stay logged on, a task that runs on dial-up might be better for you.). And 2) a task that runs at a set time each day.


Back to Configuring 7.0 and higher   |  Back to Index


Updating Your 7.0 Scan Engine

Theoretically your Scan Engine should be updated automatically if you have followed our suggested settings above. However, we have noticed in the lab that the computers do not immediately upudate new Scan Engine versions when they are made available. It may be that there is a delay between when the new Scan Engine version is out and when it is made available to download through an Auto-Update. Regardless, to be safe, you may want to check periodically for new Scan Engine versions (new versions comeout every 2-6 months).

To look for a new Scan Engine version, or to update your scan engine, go to: Under "Download Products UPdates and Upgrades" click on "Business User." Then under "Software Updates," click on "Scan Engine." Agree to the downloading conditions (if you are asked), and finally under "Engine Updates" click on "Engine-only Superdat File (intel)" --you should be downloading Engine "4400." (The most recent Engine as of 11/17/04). Save the file to your desktop. Once it is saved, double-click on the icon to install it.


Back to Configuring 7.0 and higher   |  Back to Index


Licensing and Availability at Hunter, and Other Resources

Licensing and Availability

To learn more about getting the most up-to-date anti-virus software for your computer, you can visit these sites

Hunter ICIT Anti-Virus support page:
This site is maintained by the very knowledgeable, friendly and professional: Frank Lopez
To access this same page through the main Hunter Site:
Hunter - Faculty and Staff Services - Software and Virus updates provided by ICIT.

FTP Server for Local DAT updates: Update/
(Note that in the above address, there is a space between "Antivirus" and "Update")

McAfee Website
(As listed in the above section: "What antivirus software is best for your computer?").


Other Hunter Resources

McAfee Anti-Virus Web Links at Hunter College

Again, Frank Lopez's (Frank is the Site License Coordinator for Hunter) web site at Hunter is an excellent resource page for up-to-date McAfee antivirus software, info, etc.

Along with Frank Lopez's site, one of the best web for information about protecting computers from viruses is Dr. Manfred Kuechler's web site. It is a bit dated at this point, but still highly informative. This document borrows liberally from Dr. Kuechler and we appreciate his efforts. This site discusses safeguarding your HOME COMPUTER as well as your office computer.

ICIT does provide the following useful documentation on how to configure autoupdating in VirusScan 4.5.0, but it does not seem to have been updated since Spring of 2000, and is very dated at this point.

ICIT does provide better information on using VirusScan 4.5.1 at the following link, but it does not seem to have been updated since Spring of 2002.

Software news listing new software available from ICIT. Very outdated. It lists McAfee VirusScan 4.5.1 as "new" software. Does not mention Virex 7.2.1 for Mac OS X.


Back to Index


How To Find Information on New Viruses

The first place alerts are posted by McAfee are on their alert web pages. Virus Definition update emails almost always come later.

AVERT Alerts are posted on the following web page:

Bookmark this page and check it everyday. If an alert is posted, check what Virus Definition is required to stop the virus, and update to that Virus Definition immediately if it is available. Note that when an alert is first posted, the Virus Definition needed to stop the new virus may not be available yet. In an extreme emergency it may be best to stop using computers until the required Virus Definition is available and installed.

(See examples from the "Newly Discovered Threats" Web Page:
Note the column that says "Included in DAT." As these viruses are newly discovered the DAT (Virus Definition) required to find them may not have been released yet.)

To be notified whenever a new DAT (Virus Definition) is released, sign up for The AVERT DAT Notification Service:
This is highly recommended.

For an alternate source of information about new viruses, check out the Symantec Anti-Virus Resource Center (SARC, makers of Norton Anti-Virus) at the following URL:
Note that different anti-virus companies will sometimes give different names to the same virus.


Back to Index


This page was last updated on November 24, 2004