Spyware enforcement abolished

Abbey Stirgwolt

A few minutes spent to install spyware protection could save ResNet employees hours – and save students money.

In past semesters, ResNet has required that students install a spyware protection package on their Windows-based PCs. This semester that policy remains a requirement, but it will no longer be enforced through the Cisco Clean Access program.

The change was enacted because of students’ protests to an e-mail sent out by ResNet at the end of fall semester detailing the university’s anti-spyware policy. The e-mail said the university would only support certain spyware protection programs.

The e-mail, which reaped complaints by residential students, prompted ResNet to abolish formal enforcement of its spyware protection requirement.

“Let it be known that the cries of our residential students have not gone unheard and that ResNet does have a heart to feel with and ears to listen with,” wrote Sr. LAN Administrator Gregory Perkowski in a Jan. 9 follow-up e-mail to residential students. “To that end, there will be no enforcement or specific requirement to have an anti-spyware package installed on your Windows-based PC.”

In past semesters, university enforcement of anti-spyware, virus patches and other security installments was possible due to a program called Cisco Clean Access.

However, to prevent an inundation of requests to clean spyware-ridden PCs, ResNet has offered an incentive for students to take advantage of the university’s free McAfee spyware protection: A $40 fine will be issued to students who bring in their “unprotected” Windows-based PCs for spyware cleaning.

After the offending PCs are cleaned, they will also be equipped with spyware protection software to prevent future infections.

Perkowski, who sees numerous cases of spyware infestation each semester, said spyware “takes significantly longer to get rid of because there are usually multiple instances designed to do something different.”

“The intention (of spyware) is to gather as much information about the user as possible,” Perkowski said. This information can include data like social security numbers or online banking passwords.

Because so many of a computer’s resources are required to gather and store information for a spyware program, its performance can be “seriously degraded,” Perkowski said.

For this reason, some students don’t think avoiding spyware protection is worth the risk.

“I haven’t had too much of a problem (with spyware), though in the past I’ve lost stuff to viruses,” said junior accounting major Kyle Keckler. He plans to install spyware protection on his computer as soon as he gets it hooked up to ResNet.

Others, like senior education major Rachel Thomas, are willing to take their chances.

“If I don’t have to (download spyware protection), I probably won’t do it,” she said.

For more information and instructions for downloading anti-spyware packages, visit http://www.res.kent.edu/connect.

Contact technology reporter Abbey Stirgwolt at [email protected].