By Jonathan Smith, Managing Editor
The campus network survived the biggest Internet worm attack ever with only a significant slowdown of the network of two or three hours, said Dr. K.B. Massingill, chief information officer.
The worm, known as MyDoom, affects computers running Microsoft Windows operating systems. Once infected, the worm finds all e-mail addresses saved on the computer and sends 60-plus e-mail messages to each address.
Massingill said the problem was noticed when 50,000 e-mail messages were waiting to be sent by the server. Under normal conditions, there should be essentially zero.
He said the computer registration that each student had to do when returning from Christmas break helped track down infected computers.
“We went through the mail logs to find users who sent out hundreds of e-mails,” Massingill said. “We were able to call that person or go to their room and help them get it under control.”
Rick Crain, sophomore computer science major from Fort Worth and Team 55 student worker, said that although the computer registration helped in finding infected computers, not enough students have virus protection installed on their computers.
Both Crain and Massingill said the most important thing students can do to stay protected is to keep the Windows software updates current, as well as install virus protection and keep the virus protection updates current. Massingill said free antivirus software is available for students from Team 55.
Nationwide, the MyDoom worm had an outbreak more widespread than the W32. Blaster.Worm, which haunted the university’s network for several days at the beginning of the fall semester. Instead of several days of network trouble, Massingill said Information Services only encountered a few hours of significant trouble.
“This was a bigger attack,” Massingill said. “We were much, much more ready for it.”
He said that not only was Information Services ready to handle an attack because of the new computer registration system, but the students and their computers were more prepared to handle the outbreak.
Students can contact Team 55 if they think they have been infected with the worm. Crain said they have had different computers brought in every day to disinfect their systems.
Crain said worms and viruses have been a problem for the network this year.
“There’s been an unprecedented amount of viruses coming out this year,” Crain said.
He said the problem is also magnified when students come back from long holidays, such as summer or Christmas, and have been using their computers at home.
“Towards the end of each semester, we finally get caught up [with viruses and worms],” Crain said, “but after Christmas, a lot of computers all come back infected.”