Bites from the Love Bug

On May 4, computer systems around the world, from personal computers to large commercial and government systems, were affected by a deliberately introduced "worm" that attacked PC-type systems and propagated itself by sending an "ILOVEYOU" attachment to those listed in address books. Concordia wasn't spared. Sheila Ettinger, Analyst/System Administrator in IITS (Instructional and Information Technology Services), was one of the employees who had to deal with the fallout. Here's her perspective:

Who was on the front lines?

Personally, I dealt with about 15 or 16 calls, including e-mail. The front runner for calls for assistance, however, is the IITS Help Line.

How does this compare with your normal volume?

Sixteen calls are way beyond the number of queries I would expect to deal with personally on any given day. Researching the worm's effects and progress, sending out updates on Shoptalk and responding to inquiries took up the better part of my day on Thursday.

How long did it take to help people?

I actually learned about the potential problem shortly after I arrived at the office, and we were therefore ready to give people a response when they started to call. By sending out a warning as soon as possible, we hope that we were able to mitigate the damage for those Concordians who use PCs and certain Windows applications. For those who had already had the misfortune of infected systems, we were able to pass on the information they needed to limit the damage, as well as to prevent them from continuing to prop agate the worm. Unfortunately, the "antidote" was not available until later in the day.

How did you all feel at the end of the day?

I can only speak for myself when I say that this is one type of excitement at the office that I would prefer to do without!

Is it over? Can you give us a general warning to prepare for the Next Big Nuisance?

I wish that I could say that it is over. Unfortunately, the code for this particular worm is readily available. As a result, it has spawned many "copycat" programs in which the code has been slightly altered and then redistributed. I think we can expect this sort of fallout for a few weeks to come, at least.

As far as a general warning is concerned, I would suggest that people treat the old adage of "better safe than sorry" as a mantra. Never open an e-mail attachment unless you are absolutely certain of the source. Even then, make sure that your e-mail software is configured in such a way that it does not automatically open attachments for you. Finally, invest in an anti-virus program and keep it updated, weekly if not daily.

P.S. Geoff Selig, Coordinator of the Help Line, reports that fewer than 10 calls came in about the Love Bug. "I expect the quick response by Sheila Ettinger warning the Concordia community helped keep people informed as to what to do and what not to do."

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Copyright 2000 Concordia's Thursday Report.

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