Blaster. Nachi. MyDoom. What do these things have in common? They are all computer viruses that have infected Northwestern since school started in August.
MyDoom is the latest virus that has impacted not only NW, but the whole world. MyDoom arrives as an e-mail attachment that will send itself out to other e-mail addresses in the address book if opened. The interesting thing about MyDoom is that it disguises itself particularly well.
“You might receive an e-mail from someone you know that says ‘Hello’ and an attachment that says ‘This is cool, check this out’ or an e-mail from ‘System Administrator’ with an attachment that said ‘Mail transaction failed. Details in attachment,” said Paul Beltman, Academic Systems Manager for Computing Services.
“Fortunately, we have not been hit real hard,” said Beltman. “The Panda anti-virus program that we use has done a great job of keeping viruses off campus. The program is updated daily, so we usually don’t have much of a problem.”
Several students on campus are feeling the sting of the MyDoom virus. Juniors Heidi Tonne and Amanda Ytzen were recent victims.
Tonne said, “I really feel bad for the people who keep getting e-mails from me.” Ytzen added, “People get e-mails from me even when my computer is turned off.”
Beltman says that their computers are not infected; rather, someone that they know has gotten the MyDoom virus. Because Tonne and Ytzen’s names are in that person’s address book, and the virus randomly chooses names, Tonne and Ytzen are the victims of chance.
Tonne and Ytzen have nothing to do with the e-mails that some of you may have received, the virus is just using their names.
Because of the deal the school has with Panda, the real trouble comes from student computers that aren’t protected by an anti-virus program. The deal with Panda doesn’t cover student computers, so students that bring their own computers are responsible for making sure they have an anti-virus program of their own.
Beltman offers a few suggestions for students that don’t happen to have any anti-virus software. “Students can go to the I-Drive or to the computing services help desk link on the intranet home page; we’ve got several helpful things including virus detection and removal tools.”
Beltman offers some final advice: “The ultimate form of protection is just to be cautious about opening e-mails you receive; it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
If you do happen to receive a suspicious e-mail from someone you know, it is a good idea to write that person and ask them if they meant to send you an e-mail, as e-mails using that person’s name could be sent out without them even realizing it.