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AcIS Urges Cleaning and Securing All Windows Computers to Remove, Protect Against Current Viruses

The recent and rapid spread of several Windows-based computer viruses and worms (SoBig, Blaster, Welchia) has had a noticeable impact on Columbia University's network and E-mail systems. Although AcIS has been successful in keeping mission-critical services functioning, the threat to University systems and networks will be ongoing. Continued vigilance on the part of the entire Columbia community is necessary to preserve the health and stability of our information services.

We face an immense, immediate challenge with the arrival of new and returning students and staff, who may connect unprotected and/or infected computers to Columbia's network. These viral threats are severe, and thus all faculty, staff, and students should take steps now to clean and secure their systems.

  1. Before coming to Columbia, or immediately upon arriving on campus, please ensure that your Windows computer is not infected with, or exposed to, the Blaster and Welchia worms by following the steps found at this Web site:
  2. It is imperative that all Macintosh and Windows systems run anti-virus software and keep it updated. Columbia University distributes Norton Anti-Virus free of charge at:
  3. Be extremely careful about opening E-mail attachments. The Sobig virus is being rampantly distributed via E-mail attachments, and AcIS requires that infected machines be wiped completely clean ("reformatted") in order to be reconnected to our network.

    Columbia has taken steps to filter both the virus itself and most recently, the enormous amount of harmless, but annoying, bounce messages that the worm generates. These bounce messages typically arrive in the form of a statement that you have sent a virus-infected message through a server somewhere on the Internet, when in fact you have no recognition of the message in question.

    Please ignore these bounce messages as AcIS fine-tunes their filtering techniques. These messages do not contain the virus itself and they do not indicate that your computer is infected or that you are the victim of an identity theft (beyond the use of your E-mail address).
  4. For more information about keeping your computer safe in the future, visit:

    Assistance is available for all students, faculty, and staff from the Columbia Computing Support Center in 102 Philosophy and the Columbia Computing Helpdesk at 212-854-1919 (consultant@columbia.edu). In addition, staff and faculty can consult with school-based and departmental computing support.

    Health Sciences students can get assistance at the CAIT Helpdesk in the Health Sciences Library, 2nd floor, or by calling 212-305-3694. For more information on computer security on the Health Sciences campus, see:

Published: Aug 27, 2003
Last modified: Aug 27, 2003

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