Volume 95, Issue 12

Thursday, September 20, 2001
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Twelve months of Mustang vanity

UWO and USC battle for prime parking

Tragedy kills the radio star?

Virus constipates computers

News Briefs

Virus constipates computers

By Kathy Robineau
Gazette Writer

What appears to be one of the worst computer viruses Western has been hit by in recent past reared its ugly head on campus late Tuesday morning.

According to Eric Daugavietis, senior help desk consultant at Information Technology Services and Western webmaster, this new virus, called 'Pe_Nimda.a' (admin spelled backwards), is a combination of all the horrific qualities we have seen in previous attacks of Code Red, Code Green, Code Blue and Love Bug.

Penny Westmacott, manager of Library, Information and Technology Services, said many students have experienced trouble with systems crashing or printers registering 'unavailable' all over campus yesterday, all caused by the virus' spreading.

Westmacott said although the virus has yet to hit individual personal computers, the virus' second wave is pending and could start to affect students at home any time.

Bob Caron, a library systems operator at Weldon library said the virus can spread in a number of ways, namely the address book in e-mail programs, computers that are networked together and also through main servers.

When the virus is spreading by way of e-mail, it will arrive with an attachment called 'readme.exe', and proceeds to drop a file called 'mepXXXX.tmp.exe' into the C:\Windows\Temp directory.

"The virus causes denial of service and attacks and floods the Internet with too much information," Caron said, adding signs of an infected computer include a slowing down of the system, excessive freezing or a computer showing numerous error messages.

"ITS is taking measures to stop it and are currently working to fix the problem," Daugavietis said.

She said students should not be concerned – ITS initiated their anti-virus files approximately five hours after the virus broke – the clean-up process has already begun for any infected systems.

"All students should check the ITS website (www.uwo.ca/its/) for further information on the current situation," Daugavietis said. "If anyone does not already have anti-virus software, programs are available at the campus computer store or online."

While some students on campus have already begun showing signs of concern regarding the virus, some are only beginning to catch word of the bug.

"My computer keeps freezing and it's frustrating because I can't get anything done," said Darryl Dalton, a second-year sociology student. Dalton said he was unable to confirm the virus had infected his computer, but suspected something – possibly the virus – had infected it. "Yesterday I punched my wall in frustration," he said.

Lauren Starr/Gazette
EVEN THOUGH HIS FRIENDS TOLD HIM THAT USING A COMPUTER WAS A GREAT WAY TO KEEP IN TOUCH WITH IN PEN PALS, HE STILL FOUND THE BEST WAY WAS TO PUT IT IN HIS MOUTH. Third-year biology student, James Duncan touched base with an old friend Wednesday in the computer lab at Natural Science.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001