University strongly advises students to download anti-virus program

Abbey Stirgwolt

In addition to typical holiday season stress, Microsoft employees were left to find an antidote to a malicious virus outbreak that appeared two days after Christmas.

The virus, unofficially known as “WMF” because of its association with Windows Meta Files, “exploits a certain vulnerability in Microsoft Explorer and in the Microsoft operating system,” said Greg Seibert, director of security and compliance.

Microsoft immediately issued a security advisory and began working on a virus patch to fix the exploitation. The patch was released Jan. 5.

Although a Russian engineer released a similar patch several days before Microsoft, Kent State officials had advised students, faculty and staff to wait for the Microsoft patch, Seibert said.

Seibert said the virus, which is most commonly accessed through “adult sites” and also “get-rich-quick” sites, was not incredibly widespread and, though some cases may surface in the Kent State network, the university’s anti-virus program will guard against any attacks.

Specific effects of the WMF virus on machines vary in scope, according to Instances of stolen passwords and also codes designed to control computers and infuse them with spam and other viruses were said to be possibilities.

The best thing students can do to combat WMF and other viruses is to install McAfee virus protection software, Seibert said.

“McAfee (anti-virus program) is free for students, faculty and staff at Kent State,” Seibert said. He recommended students download the program, a process that takes five to 10 minutes depending upon connection speed. Seibert also advised students to make sure their anti-virus software is up-to-date and to think twice about online banking and other online programs that require sensitive information such as finances, passwords or Social Security numbers.

“The big thing is to install McAfee,” Seibert said.

While Seibert is counting on a few calls to the Help Desk, he expects a successful and – for the most part – virus-free move-in.

“I think the move-in will go very smoothly,” he said.

Contact technology reporter Abbey Stirgwolt at [email protected].