Indiana University Shakes a Nasty Network Virus

Article excerpt

Indiana University (IU) is one of the oldest state universities in the Midwest and is also one of the largest universities in the United States, with more than 100,000 students, faculty and staff on eight campuses. Information technology is critical to the University community. IU faculty and staff understand the potential for disaster that computer viruses represent in an environment where Internet downloads and e-mail proliferate. To that end, the university was diligent in keeping the workstations of faculty, staff and students -- as well as its own PCs and servers -- outfitted with anti-virus software. In addition, since 1996, the university has made available to students IUware, a CD that contains anti-virus software and other programs designed to help make their IU experience more successful.

A Hidden Menace

Every year, the university re-evaluates its software to determine its continued effectiveness. Coincidentally, during product evaluations in late 1998, the university's Bloomington campus was struck with a macro virus attack against which the current anti-virus software was ineffective. University technical support staff were powerless as well. "When students or faculty called to report a virus, our security staff couldn't point them toward our current anti-virus software. It was incapable of detecting all the macro viruses that were plaguing us," says Mark Bruhn, university information technology policy Officer.

A single macro virus can pose a significant threat to a college campus, where infection is easily transferred through students sharing even a single floppy disk in a computer lab. And, although many macro viruses are annoying rather than devastating, their detrimental effects on busy university students can result in a considerable decrease in productivity.

The university had recently started concentrating on increasing the overall security of their information systems and had created two new offices to address those issues. University staff had also begun a widespread program aimed at educating others about safe computing practices and encouraged staff, faculty and students to seek help from university technical staff. So, when students and faculty members presented their virus problems and the university's current solution was inadequate, it became imperative to find a better solution immediately.

Search and Protect

In both their testing environment and real-world applications, Symantec's Norton AntiVirus was the product of choice. Brian Voss, director of teaching and learning, information technology, made a discovery with the new software. …