34 students lose Web connections

Information Technology Services disconnected approximately 34 student-owned computers from the university's network ports in McCormick Hall and Straz Tower last week.

Kathy Lang, Chief Information Officer at ITS, said the disconnections came after a large number of students in those residence halls called ITS and reported slow network performance.

Lang said 10 computer ports were re-connected as of Monday afternoon.

The computers were infected with a virus that increased the bandwidth in spamming activity and induced the computers to conduct Denial of Service attacks, Lang said.

According to Lang, residence hall technicians tried to track down the owners of the affected computers and pass out anti-virus software CDs last Wednesday and Thursday. Students who were not contacted had their Internet ports disconnected and received a registered letter explaining the problem last Thursday.

According to the letter signed by Robert Guttman, the residence hall technical support specialist, students must install the anti-virus software found on the CD that is available at Schroeder Hall 155. Students must then sign the letter confirming they resolved the problem and return it to ITS in order to get their ports reactivated.

Affected students said they were not satisfied with the way ITS handled the situation.

"I wish the university would make us a little more aware of what's wrong with our computers," said freshman Katie Meister. "It's ridiculous for us to download all these virus scanners and then not have them work. It's frustrating to just walk into the room and there's no Internet. It's a major inconvenience for us."

"I'm frustrated," said Nicole Lund, a freshman whose port connection has not yet been restored. "It's angering because the Internet's still down."

According to Lang, ITS usually notifies students whose computers have been infected with a virus to clean their machines within 48 hours and sign a statement verifying they did so. If students do not comply, their network connection will be terminated. In this case, Lang said, the usual notice had to be scrapped due to the overwhelmingly adverse effects the computers were having on the campus connection.

"We're affecting the few to protect the many," Lang said. "We know students need the connection. They need to do legitimate academic work. We'll do everything we can to get them back on. "

Out of approximately 4,000 student-owned computers, less than one percent were disconnected because of this problem, Lang said. This was less than the 60 Schroeder residents' ports which were disconnected for similar reasons last October, according to the October 17 issue of The Marquette Tribune.

The best way for students to protect themselves from virus or spam activity and prevent their ports from being disconnected is to keep their computer up-to-date. Students are encouraged to get computer security updates, run virus protection programs, use up-to-date anti-virus protection software and use a personal Internet firewall, Lang said.