About 2,800 installations of a new virus protection program have gone smoothly except for some software conflicts, according to Eric Weakland, director of network security in e-Operations at AU.
More than 1,200 students had help installing the program from personnel at e-Operations help desks in Mary Graydon Center and Tenley Campus. About 3,400 students live on campus and must install the software to log on to the network.
“Generally the response has been very, very positive,” Weakland said. “Students understand that we had had problems in the past with poorly configured computers and viruses. They’ve been very understanding of the fact that this is a danger to the university ... and a danger to their data.”
About 100 to 150 students who already had McAfee antivirus software had problems installing the software. Weakland said e-Operations is working with the providers of Cisco Clean Access, AU’s new virus protection program, to make sure it’s compatible with McAfee.
The virus protection software is a response to high rates of infection among network computers, mostly affecting students. Viruses infected almost 3,000 users since 2004 and have cost more than $110,000 to fix.
When users try to log on to the internet for the first time, instructions will come up on how to install and use the software. e-Operations has tried to make the software as simple to operate as possible, Weakland said.
“What we looked for was the sweet spot,” Weakland said. “What was the minimum we could have users do to make sure that they were protected.”
Users could run into problems installing the software if they haven’t updated virus patches recently or their computers are already infected.
More than 600 users in all residence halls except McDowell and Tenley Campus have been using the software since mid-summer.
Jason Dombrowski, a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs who installed the program over the summer, said he misses the control he had over his own virus protection but thinks the system is a good idea for less computer-savvy students.
“But people as a whole need to learn some basics about their computer’s health,” he added, “because Big Brother, a.k.a. the university, isn’t always going to be here to watch over your shoulder and protect you.”
Russ Croteau, a senior in SPA, said he had trouble setting up the software.
“It was a bastard to install; I had to call the IT people 2 or 3 times,” he said.
Croteau said he didn’t fully understand the problem, but it may have had something to do with the Norton Antivirus software he already had installed. e-Operations guided him through the installation and the software has since run smoothly, he said.
The new virus protection system is called MARS2. The first MARS, which stands for MAC (Media Access Control) Address Registration System, was implemented in 1999 and allowed e-Operations to pair up computers with their owners.
Identifying the users of each of the 8,000 to 9,000 devices hooked up to the AU network during the school year prevents unauthorized access and allows e-Operations to track the source of viruses.
Macintosh users will not have to install the software, but they will have to agree to AU’s acceptable-use policies to log on. None of the thousands of infections reported this year and last were on Macs, which make up about 12.5 percent of EagleNet users.