MU’s Blaster worm worries waning

Tuesday, September 9, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:14 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 11, 2008

James Mahood did not battle the recent Blaster computer worm. He settled in at Baker residence hall equipped with the necessary anti-virus software and stayed clear of trouble.

Other students are following in his steps as the worm — which crippled network services at MU and worldwide last month — is slowly becoming computer history.

MU students and technicians at Information and Access Technology Services, which oversees computers on campus, have been using removal tools to oust the intruder. Currently, 11 out of 19 MU residence halls have complete network access restored, said Todd Krupa, communications officer for IATS.

The other eight residence halls are being evaluated and complete access will be restored in the next couple of weeks, Krupa said.

Mike Young, an engineering student, said IATS should have done something before students started hooking up their computers. Young, who lives in Mark Twain residence hall, said he can’t access Kazaa, a popular file-sharing program, or servers for games or for personal use.

A week ago, only four of the halls had complete access. Krupa said the self-help tools released Aug. 25 have been used by a lot of students, which eased IATS’ job of evaluating individual systems.

“I think they have done a good job so far,” journalism student Thomas Lundby said about IATS’ efforts. Lundby added that he thinks it’s the students’ responsibility to keep their computers updated and virus-free.

Worms copy themselves from computer to computer on a network. IATS has developed tools that evaluate a building and shut off network access to suspicious individual computers, Krupa said. If a student loses network access, it means IATS disabled the option. Krupa said the student needs to run the appropriate tools and then call the IATS Help Desk at 882-5000 and ask to be reintegrated.

Kate Moore, a business student, said she called IATS four times before finally getting her Internet connection to work. Moore — a resident of Smith, where complete access has been restored — said she didn’t miss anything because the services that became unavailable were not something she used.

Students in the eight residence halls on restricted access are able to use Webmail, generally surf the Internet and use academic tools such as Blackboard and WebCT.

Lundby found these restrictions tough only in the beginning. Then, he said, he used his laptop and a wireless connection to get around them.

Krupa said the Blaster worm was painful because it affected individual systems. Reports in USA Today said the worm and recent other computer attacks caused damage estimated around $3.5 billion to American companies.

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