By Jonathan Smith, Managing Editor
The effects of a new computer worm hit the ACU network Aug. 16, forcing network administrators to shut it down until Aug. 18.
The worm, commonly known as W32.Blaster.Worm, could have easily spread throughout the network if students weren’t given the opportunity to disinfect and protect their computers, said K.B. Massingill, ACU’s chief information officer.
“What we began to see is that people arrived on campus and began to set up their computers and plug into the network with the worm already on them,” Massingill said, also stating that even some new computers that were set up for the first time and hooked into the network appeared to be infected.
The worm, which affects Microsoft Windows 2000, NT and XP operating systems, does not appear to be too harmful to the network or computers, Massingill said, with the main symptom of the worm being that a computer will frequently reboot itself or become unresponsive.
“Our goal is to leave the network up 100 percent of the time,” Massingill said. “We could have left it up; there was no technological need, but we wanted to give people a chance to protect themselves.”
With the network down, about 30 Team 55 employees and other technology employees spent 1,000 man hours burning several hundred CDs containing files to disinfect computers and prevent the worm from re-infecting them, helping students install the patch and putting up signs around the dorms alerting students about the virus. The CDs are available in all dorms and with Team 55.
After the network was turned back on, a scan was performed on the network to detect virus alerts on all university-owned computers on the network. Compared to another virus currently circulating which registered 9,500 alerts during the scan, Massingill said the 10 or 15 alerts the Blaster worm registered indicated it was under control.
As more students began arriving, Massingill said they hope to catch infected computers.
“We recommend that they not plug the network cord into the Ethernet jack until they run and install the patch,” said Jared Berryman, Team 55 employee and senior Bible major from Burleson.