Virus Protection & Spam

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Virus Protection & Spam

Virus Protection

A computer virus is any software program which replicates by copying itself into system files or other documents on a computer. Computer viruses are not as common currently as other types of malware, spyware and adware being more prevalent these days.

Another common virus program is known as scareware, or fake antivirus software. These virus infections are intended to make you believe that your computer may have a virus infection, and strongly recommend that you install software to scan for the infection, and then purchase the software to clean the infection. The act of installing the software is what is actually responsible for inserting the virus.

If you see a message suggesting an antivirus program has found a virus infection and requests that you install software to remove the infection, please contact your Client Services Representative or the HMS IT Service Desk immediately for instructions on how to prevent the installation.

Virus Protection Software


Spam is flooding the Internet with many copies of the same message, in an attempt to force the message on people who would not otherwise choose to receive it. Most spam is commercial advertising, often for dubious products, get-rich-quick schemes, or quasi-legal services. Spam costs the sender very little to send -- most of the costs are paid for by the recipient or the carriers rather than by the sender. Below you will find tips and best practices for getting rid of unwanted emails.

Get Rid of Unwanted Email
Submit Missed Spam

Email Quarantine

Virus Protection Software

HMS IT highly recommends the use of antivirus software on every laptop and desktop connected to the HMS network. Antivirus software can be installed on Harvard owned computers by request at no cost to you. Please email the IT Service Desk for more information.

Get Rid of Unwanted Email

  • There is a federal law which states that commercial advertising via email mailing lists must provide a way for users to unsubscribe from the list. This is usually at the very bottom of the message. Unsubscribe yourself right away by following the instructions that the email provides. Make sure you unsubscribe/reply to a legitimate business. Otherwise, do not respond to spam, it only lets the spammer know they have a live audience
  • Use spam filters or rules to automatically move suspect messages to a folder other than your Inbox

Submit Missed Spam

Harvard University uses Proofpoint to block incoming spam so that it doesn't reach your Inbox. But no system is perfect. 

You can forward spam e-mail as an attachment to

Email Quarantine

You can check any messages that have been identified as spam and quarantined. Quarantined messages will automatically be deleted after a certain amount of time. You can review the listing if you think a message sent to you was mistakenly flagged as spam.

Note: To access the spam quarantine server, you must be on-quad or use the HMS SSL Virtual Private Network.

  1. Connect to
  2. Log in using your eCommons username and password
  3. Click a message subject line to read the message content. On the Select Action>drop down menu:
    • Choose Release to remove the message from quarantine and forward it to your Inbox
    • Choose Release and Add to Safelist to forward the message to your Inbox and add the sender's name to a list so that messages from that email address will no longer be identified as spam
  4. Click << Back to Message to return to message listing
  5. Repeat step 3 as needed
  6. To exit, choose Options, Log Out from the top right corner of the window

Online help for the IronPort spam quarantine web page can be found by selecting Help, Online Help from the top right corner of the window or clicking the following link to connect to the end-user help screen.