Changes in Home Computers Means Fewer Problems for College Network
Illinois Wesleyan student Melissa Koeppen uses wireless internet available in the
Hansen Student Center from the comfort of an easy chair in this file photo from the
2004-05 academic year.
August 31, 2005
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Two years ago the W32/Blaster computer worm surfaced just days
before Illinois Wesleyan University’s students moved into their dormitory rooms. As
a result, members of the University’s Information Technology staff scrambled to make
sure that infected computers did not wind up spreading the worm across the entire
This year another computer worm, this one called “ZoTob,” shut down computer systems
around the country, including systems at CNN and The New York Times, on August 14,
less then two weeks before Illinois Wesleyan’s first-year students arrived.
But according to Trey Short director of computer services at Illinois Wesleyan, there
were almost no problems associated with students connecting their computers to the
Short believes a number of factors have contributed to the relatively problem-free
move-in this year.
On the one hand, the University has become more proactive in getting information out
to parents of entering students. Members of the Information Technology staff held
sessions during a parents’ orientation program in June, for instance.
“We provided information about the threats of viruses and spyware and discussed how
best to protect a computer from these threats prior to arriving on campus,” said Short.
There are other changes, though, that Short thinks had a major impact. For instance,
most of the computers being brought to campus by students are new. That means they
are running Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2 and have some sort of virus protection
“The computers are set to auto-update security patches and virus definitions, better
protecting the computer,” Short said.
Even so, Information Technology had created CDs equipped with virus protection, spyware
protection, and virus/spyware cleaners and made those CDs available to students as
they arrived at their residence halls with their computers.
“We posted signs on all residence hall doors informing students not to plug a computer
into the campus network unless that computer had virus protection installed, and we
also warned them to perform system updates as soon as they plugged into the network,”
While all these precautions made a difference, Short also says that the shift in Internet
use from dial-up connections to DSL and cable modems on home computers has had an
impact in the level of sophistication that students and parents have about the issues.
“The move from dial-up service to a broadband Internet connection with continuous
access to the Internet has creating a computing environment at home that is similar
to what students have in their rooms,” Short said. “Home broadband users quickly learn
the importance of updating a computer’s operating system and virus definitions as
well as installing some type of spyware preventions. The news media are also doing
more to inform people of virus and spyware threats and how to protect a computer from