When she moved in to East Quad Residence Hall in mid-August, RC sophomore Sharon Brett did something typical while she unpacked – she used her computer. But shortly after, the machine was infected with a virus, causing her to be kicked off the University server.
“Supposedly I opened some e-mail that contained it,” Brett said.
Virus Busters, a group of Information Technology Central Services employees who detect and prevent the spreading of viruses, noticed the problem and removed Brett from the server until the problem was fixed – which took nearly two weeks.
Brett was not alone in her computer trouble.
“It’s progressively getting worse. We have never had it hit at the start of the school year like this,” said Elizabeth Loesch, director of the housing information technology office.
Many of the current virus strains are being transmitted into computers through vulnerabilities in e-mail or operating systems.
“There are two things students need to do for protection: Keep their operating systems up on the latest patches … (and) have good virus software that is kept updated,” Loesch said.
To prevent virus infections, McAfee Security recommends not opening any e-mail attachments that are suspicious, unexpected or from an unknown sender.
Additionally, McAfee advises to download files only from “legitimate and reputable” sources. When in doubt, they suggest that computer users always err on the side of caution.
About 100 of the 10,000 computer accounts on the University’s network are now blocked due to infections discovered by Virus Busters, Loesch said.
Liz Sweet, director of the ITCS user advocate office, said although new computers are still being infected every day, the virus outbreak is on the decline.
“For this particular outbreak, it’s on the downward side of the curve. We are seeing fewer and fewer cases every day, and we are cleaning up computers that are compromised with the worm,” Sweet said.
“We are winning the battle and we are getting ahead of this thing,” she added.
In response to the threat of viruses, ITCS developed and released a disk that, once installed, prevents and fixes the most dangerous strains.
The disk was given to all students living in University Housing and is available for free to all other students at Angell Hall, the Michigan Union and several libraries.