Imagine a roomful of people," says Petr Brym, director of telecommunications and client services, "and some of them are trying, as fast as possible, to get the attention of everyone else. There'd be this barrage of, 'Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!' No other communication would be possible."
That's what happened in March, when a particularly nasty wave of malicious programs with exotic names like Blaster and Nachi-B deluged the UNH campus along with the rest of the country.
At UNH, people received e-mail messages that appeared to come from the campus computer team. Some said, "Your e-mail account will be disabled because of improper using in next three days." Those who ignored the suspiciously slipshod grammar and opened the infected attachments disseminated a virus that temporarily bogged down the network.
The campus was also plagued with worms that spread invisibly by exploiting known software security vulnerabilities. Some of these cyber-vermin were merely annoying; others could seriously damage a hard drive. Providing medic services to outbreaks, staff teams identified the sick machines, slapped them in quarantine, eradicated the bugs, shot them up with the latest vaccines and advised their owners to keep their immunizations up-to-date.
"At the height of things," Brym says, "we were detecting 1,800 machines that either were infected or at risk."
The computer belonging to journalism major Mike Terry '06 appeared to be beyond resuscitation. He was on the verge of buying a new computer when a friend told him about free anti-virus software. On UNH's anti-virus page, <www.virus.unh. edu/>, campus users can download software and read about the latest threats and hoaxes. The health of Terry's computer now? "It works better than ever," he says. ~
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