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The Minnesota Daily

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U offers students, staff free anti-virus software

College students will take anything that’s free.

That is what Academic and Distributed Computing Services was counting on when it purchased approximately $75,000 worth of Norton AntiVirus licenses for all University students, faculty and staff system-wide.

ADCS purchased the software in an effort to prevent the spread of computer viruses, which can travel on diskettes from non-University computers.

As of March 1, students, faculty and staff are eligible to receive the service for free for one personal computer. The Norton AntiVirus service will also be implemented throughout the University computer system.

ADCS director Shih-Pau Yen said the program is like a flu shot.

“If you don’t kill the virus at home, you bring it here,” Yen said.

The Norton AntiVirus program continually checks the computer for viruses while the computer is turned on. The program locates and quarantines infected files if it is unable to remove the virus entirely, said Phil Kachelmyer, director of Departmental Computing Services.

The program should be updated weekly to search for new virus definitions. With each subsequent update, the program will review the infected files to see if it can repair them, he said.

“Viruses can damage your computer system to the point of making it unusable,” Kachelmyer said.

The University will pay a licensing fee for all faculty and students as long as they work for or attend the University, he said.

The University is part of a Big Ten consortium, which negotiated a reduced price with Symantec Software, the company that makes Norton AntiVirus. The price for each university is based on the total number of students, faculty and staff.

ADCS has provided other anti-virus software at a discounted price to students in the past and has advertised free anti-virus software available online. But Norton AntiVirus is better software and will be more effective, Yen said.

Anti-virus software is important for computers because viruses can alter or destroy files and make computers run much slower than normal, Kachelmyer said.

Viruses are most commonly spread through e-mail attachments.

“Depending on the mail program used on the computer, these viruses have the ability to send themselves to some or all of the e-mail addresses in the user’s address book,” Kachelmyer said.

This can cause an overload to the network, he said.

Norton AntiVirus scans all e-mail attachments and will not allow a contaminated attachment to open. The program is available for Windows and Macintosh operating systems.

Students and faculty can
download Norton AntiVirus from the ADCS Web site. The download can take two hours or more.

Students will be required to use their Internet IDs and passwords to access the program.

ADCS will also be selling compact discs for $6 each. The CD-ROM can be used to download the program on multiple computers. ADCS expects the CDs to be ready Friday.

Students and faculty can purchase the CDs at ADCS Help Line offices.

Joanna Dornfeld welcomes comments at [email protected]

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