Two Internet viruses have seriously strained Georgetown’s computer network in the last two weeks. The two viruses, or “worms,” the W32.Blaster.Worm and W32.SoBig, surpassed the most recent security wall in the Microsoft Windows Internet Explorer, affecting businesses, colleges and organizations worldwide.

Currently more than 380 computers on campus have been identified as affected by these viruses. In order to prevent further infection, University Information Services has cut off Internet and network access to infected computers provided instruction for installing Blaster Security patches into computers containing Windows 2000/NT/XP, which can be downloaded and then installed. The security patch prevents such computers from being attacked and infected.

Microsoft made the patch available in July but most computer users did not update their virus protection.

The Blaster worm installs itself in computers and then spreads to other computers via the Internet, not requiring e-mail for infection. The SoBig virus spreads through infected attachments sent to entries in a victim’s address book, primarily using large attachments sent through e-mail, to which UIS has implemented limitations.

In order to protect the Georgetown network from the SoBig virus, Georgetown has temporarily rerouted e-mails with attachments over 90 kilobytes. Large messages can be sent through the GUMail interface at webmail.georgetown.edu. The virus cannot be transmitted through the interface, but can still carry infected attachments received from elsewhere.

Unlike the W32.SoBig virus, the W32.Blaster.Worm does not spread through infected e-mail attachments, but infects by latching onto a flaw in the Windows XP, 2000 and NT systems.

UIS warns computer users not to attach their computer to the network if they have not installed the patch. If a computer without the patch is connected to the network, the computer is at risk for receiving the virus, which will further enable the spread of the virus throughout campus.

UIS also encourages users to obtain the most recent security updates for their system and to use a virus scanner as well. In addition, UIS warns against opening any messages or attachments that are unfamiliar and unknown, despite the familiarity of the sender.

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