Worm infects dorm network

Josh Centers

Several students arriving on campus last week came down with a nasty infection, but it was nothing a doctor could treat.

ResNet restricted dorm

network access last weekend

after a worm called “W32.Blaster.Worm” infiltrated the system.

The worm can infect any Windows 2000 or XP system connected to a network. After infection, Windows will randomly display messages mentioning “RPC” or “NT Authority” and begin a countdown for reboot.

The worm will also create a backdoor into the system, making it vulnerable to hackers and attempt a denial-of-service attack on the Windows Update servers. Additionally, it will scan the network for other machines to infect.

A denial-of-service attack is an attack on a networked computer in which the target is flooded with incoming data, basically knocking it offline.

Mac OS, Unix variants and older versions of Windows are not vulnerable to the worm.

Access was restricted from Thursday afternoon until midnight Sunday, said David Beckley, network computing and communications director.

Students who tried to access the Internet were redirected to a page with links for both a patch for uninfected systems and a removal tool for those infected.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to make sure students can patch their machines before the semester is underway,” Beckley said, adding that this is the first time such a measure has been taken.

ResNet’s strategy worked for Burkesville freshman Brent Cary. He said he installed the patch before his system developed symptoms.

But Cary did complain about the lack of Internet access over the weekend.

“I’d like to check my e-mail before it backs up to the roof,” he said Sunday afternoon.

Beckley said he’s not sure if a network restriction will be required again, but said that an alternate course of action would probably be taken if a problem occurs later in the semester.

Some students didn’t see the virus as much of a threat.

“I got infected, but it’s a pretty pointless virus,” said Jameson Ruby, a Bowling Green freshman. “It mostly just randomly shut down my computer when I was connected to the Internet.”

ResNet users who were not able to download the patch or removal tool over the weekend can still download them from Microsoft’s Web site and Symantec’s Web site .

First-time ResNet users will be presented a one-time message instructing them to update their systems.

Beckley said that the outbreak didn’t cost the university any money, just time and effort.

Reach Josh Centers at [email protected]