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August 28, 2003

Computer problems hit Pitt’s campus

Between them, the virulent e-mail virus Sobig and Internet worms Blaster and Welchia infected most of the computers in Pitt’s student residence halls this month — necessitating a massive clean-up, the costs of which (mainly in the form of technicians’ work time) remain to be tallied.

But campus computers used by faculty and staff members largely were spared, according to the director of Pitt’s Computing Services and Systems Development (CSSD). “Among the faculty and staff, we’ve seen maybe 100-150 computers that were infected,” Jinx Walton said.

One reason for the difference is that Pitt maintains two separate connections to the Internet. “Our residence halls network provides [Pitt computing] network and Internet access to the residence halls and the campus computing labs,” explained Walton. “All other traffic, is handled on the main University network.”

Most employees’ computers are kept up to date with the latest security patches and anti-virus software, Walton said. “For those that aren’t, we can usually detect when a machine has been hacked or infected with a virus or worm, and then get either the employee or someone in that person’s department to address the problem quickly,” she said. “In unusual cases when a problem isn’t addressed quickly, ultimately we would disable the port until the problem is fixed.”

CSSD is encouraging staff and faculty to install the latest patches and anti-virus software, available at 105 Bellefield Hall. Or, download them from CSSD’s electronic software distribution site:

—Bruce Steele

Filed under: Feature,Volume 36 Issue 1

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