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ITC focuses work on virus recovery

Nov. 5, 1998

BY JEFF SCHELDT

Reporter

Jeff_Scheldt@baylor.edu

Information Technology Center staffers worked hurriedly Sunday night to destroy a potentially disastrous virus and are now focused on helping students avoid disaster in their home computers.

The virus, known as the CIH virus, can be devastating.

The virus attaches itself to an application file and waits for the user to boot up a computer on the 26th of the month. If the user boot on the 26th, the virus will override the BIOS chip (Basic Input Output Chip), and the computer will not boot up without a hardware adjustment, said Richard Gerik, associate director for student computing services.

'We came to find out Sunday night that a virus had affected PCs in the Moody lab,' Gerik said.

ITC staffers quickly utilized a new anti-virus program to find the virus and destroy it.

'We found out about it on Sunday and within 24 hours it was gone,' said Tommy Roberson, senior analyst programmer.

ITC officials do not know how the Moody lab contracted the virus.

'We don't know where we got it, but it's gone now,' Roberson said.

The infection of the Baylor server does not appear to be the result of sabotage, Roberson added.

After the virus was discovered, ITC staffers focused mainly on cleaning the computers and eradicating the virus, Gerik said.

Presently, ITC officials' main concern is that students who have used computers in the Moody lab may have received the virus through their disks and in turn may have infected their home computers.

'Students can go to the Moody lab and will be supplied with a free copy of the new anti-virus program,' Roberson said.

Students just load the floppy disk into their computer and the disk takes over, searching for and destroying the virus.

'There are millions of ways you may have gotten the virus. You can get it through e-mail attachments, downloaded files, or files gotten through other students' disks or computer files. Any time you put a file on a computer it could have a virus,' Gerik said.

The virus only affects PC's, Gerik stressed. Macintosh computers can't be infected, and the virus only affects application or executable files.

The CIH virus first reared its ugly head last July and shut down University of Texas computer labs for a day, Gerik said.

'Baylor has been more fortunate than other universities around the state,' Roberson said.

The strain of the CIH virus that Baylor computers caught is very new, and must be combated with new anti-virus programs.

'You may have bought your computer in May but the anti-virus program that came with it would not be new enough to find this virus,' Roberson said. 'The key is to have an updated anti-virus program.'

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