UCI’s NACS Protects Campus Network from PC Viruses

To prevent the spread of viruses on campus, the Network and Academic Computing Service department at UCI has blocked computers on the UCI network that are vulnerable to virus attacks or are already contaminated with a virus.
Dana Roode, NACS director, made an announcement that on Sept. 10 Microsoft announced another security vulnerability that requires new patches be installed on Windows NT 4, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Server 2003 computers.
‘Without the patches, unauthorized individuals or computer ‘worms’ can access or harm the computer and its files,’ Roode said.
Roode continued that as of Nov. 3, NACS will begin to block network access for unpatched computers that are vulnerable to attack.
Scott Menter, the assistant director of NACS, explained why they are taking these measures.
‘We are pretty well-protected against [e-mail viruses] here through the use of tools that either strip out viruses or block the messages entirely,’ Menter said. ‘Windows, unfortunately, is a huge target for the folks who write viruses and we are able to block few things against these kinds of viruses.’
Menter said NACS is able to protect computers from attacks that originate outside of the university, but attacks from within are a lot harder to deal with.
‘Let’s say you … showed up on campus and sat down at Cornerstone and used the wireless network and it turns out you’re infected [with a virus] and now are infecting everyone in the university,’ Menter said ‘It’s a place where people regularly come and go with equipment that has been somewhere else and is now here. That means they can come inside our perimeter and infect us.’
This block, which includes all computers connected to the UCI network, will also affect laptop users using the UCInet Mobile Access service to get wireless Internet access throughout the campus.
Menter said that if a person’s computer was blocked automatically, meaning that its system was actively infected by a virus and quick action is taken to remove the virus, the block is removed after a certain amount of time. However, if the computer were to be blocked manually, translating to system vulnerability, then computer owners will have to contact NACS to remove the block after applying the patches to update the system.
Nari Kye, a third-year art history major, supports the measures that NACS has decided to take.
‘I use the wireless Internet on campus all the time, and with the new viruses able to jump from computer to computer through the network, it’s good that NACS realizes this threat and is taking care of it,’ Kye said.
Chris Jones, the help desk analyst at NACS, helps students daily to remove viruses from their computers. He gives some pointers on how to decontaminate a system that is infected with a virus.
‘We have some CDs that we made for them that’ll auto-run [to patch the system and remove any viruses],’ Jones said. ‘If they have a laptop we’ll run it for them and we’ll get their system patched.’