Computer viruses not a major problem for University network

Joanna Dornfeld

The widespread computer virus infestation this summer has had little effect on the University’s computer network.

During the summer there are 15,000 to 20,000 computers on the University’s network, and the Code Red virus has infected only 20 or 30. Most computer users on campus patched their systems before the virus could attack their machines.

The Sircam virus – a worm that works via e-mail and can send confidential files – is considered a larger threat than Code Red. While Code Red affects only Web servers, Sircam can damage Windows desktop computers and servers.

Sircam has infected some individual University computers, but users haven’t reported many problems.

“It really hasn’t been much of a factor because it is summer,” said Ken Hanna, director of security and assurance in the Office of Information Technology. There are far fewer computers connected to the network during the summer.

“It’s a numbers thing,” said Pete Oberg, manager of West Bank Student Labs. “Fall semester and spring semester are always a busy time for us.”

In the past, viruses have clogged the University’s e-mail server, but the network is capable of handling the large amounts of congestion viruses might cause. The network has not slowed down because of the added traffic on the Internet due to viruses.

The OIT began scanning incoming e-mail for viruses through its main server in March 2001. Infected e-mails have a message at the top naming the virus and recommending deletion of the attachment. A warning message is also sent to the computer sending the infected e-mails.

The office scans about 3 million e-mails and detects between 3,000 and 15,000 viruses per week.

University computer labs have had few problems with viruses because labs have preventative measures in place to protect systems.

“On the PC side we are running a (Windows) NT server,” said Jerry Larson, Student Labs East Bank coordinator. “Much of the software is residing on a server that is protected.”

The labs also restore Macintosh computers each night, deleting viruses.

Individuals can check their computers for viruses at major anti-virus Web sites such as www.symantec.com or www.sophos.com. The Web sites have the most up-to-date information and provide information to remove the virus, Hanna said.

There are a few things computer users can do to prevent viruses from infecting their computers: maintain updated anti-virus software, maintain vendor patches for computer software, turn off computers when not in use, install a firewall and, most importantly, leave unexpected attachments unopened.

 

Joanna Dornfeld welcomes comments at [email protected]