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August 29, 2003

Readying for Return of Students

Students returning to the Calvin College residence halls next week Wednesday will be greeted with a Lifesaver candy and a message urging them to "catch this lifesaver."

The lifesaver in this case however is not the actual candy; rather it's a copy of antivirus software that Calvin is providing free of charge to all returning students.

The pitch is part of a push to prevent the recent spate of computer viruses from infecting residence hall computers. When students return to campus next week they'll be bringing hundreds of home computers with them - some of which may already have the recent Sobig virus or Blaster worm.

Calvin hopes that a free copy of antivirus software will scrub all those machines clean.

In fact, Calvin Information Technology personnel have been hearing horror stories about computer viruses from colleagues at campuses across the country.

They note that on other college campuses 30-35% of all Windows machines coming back from the summer were infected with the Sobig virus or the Blaster worm and most of the others without up-to-date virus software became infected as soon as they reached campus. The Sobig virus then began spewing out random e-mail messages and slowing many networks to a crawl.

So this week Calvin Information Technology employees had a day-long meeting in which they decided to get out in front of the situation and take a proactive approach, including:

  • buying antivirus software for every student with their own Windows personal computer
  • requiring the student to either supply their own up-to-date antivirus software or install Calvin's before logging on to Calvin's ResNet network
  • requiring every student to update Windows with all of the most recent service packs before logging on to the ResNet network

Most years Calvin has jacks on and ready to go as students arrive in their rooms. This year the college has been forced to turn them all off and wait for each student to verify that they have an up-to-date antivirus package installed and that their Windows has been updated with the most recent service packs.

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Contact Phil de Haan
616-526-6475 (v)
616-526-7069 (f)