GW thwarts computer virus

University technology officials said they have prevented a computer virus that has infected millions of computers worldwide from wreaking havoc on GW’s e-mail server.

Johnny Bret Jones, director of Technology Engineering, said GW’s virus scanner is stripping virus-laden e-mails before they reach Webmail inboxes. The messages appear in inboxes, but no longer carry the virus. He said his office has processed more than 160,000 viruses in the last week.

The “F” and “Sobig” viruses have affected computers worldwide, from Baltimore to Bangalore. It is passed through e-mails that carry headlines such as “RE:DETAILS” or “RE:ATTACHMENT,” a clever ploy designed to make users think they are receiving a response from someone they sent mail to. Upon opening the e-mail, the virus combs a computer for other e-mail addresses, and sends the virus to them, creating a spamming sensation that has brought servers to a standstill.

Jones said if the viruses were not being eradicated, “it would take most of the campus down” because millions of e-mails would be sent in a very short time across the server.

The University of Wisconsin was forced to shut down its server for a few hours last week after it suffered a deluge of e-mails.

Jones said GW’s new e-mail server, Colonial Mail, allows it to process the viruses faster, but noted the old server would’ve also eradicated the viruses, albeit more slowly.

He said the war on viruses was not costing the University extra money, but noted that several technology officials have had to stop their work on other servers to monitor the virus.

“It takes a little more manpower, it takes people off of doing other things,” he said. “It affects their schedule, but right now, it’s nothing critical.”

“We’ve done an excellent job on this,” he added.

Jones said students should delete any suspicious e-mails and download the latest anti-virus systems.

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