Anti-virus updates often lacking



By Eric Heisig

Those annoying pop-up reminders to update your anti-virus software might be worth paying attention to, after all.

According to a recent study conducted by the National Cyber Security Alliance and McAfee, Inc., 87 percent of computer users say they have anti-virus software running on their computer.

However, 48 percent of these people have let their subscription expire or did not update their software, leaving their computers more vulnerable to attack.

This is a big concern for students who may have just purchased a new computer, especially those just entering the University.

“We run into a lot of people who say they have anti-virus,” said Mike Corn, director of Security Services and Information Privacy at Computer Information Technologies and Educational Services. “They bought a new computer, which comes with anti-virus software. However, these programs usually only run for about three months.”

This can be a problem because these computer viruses and spyware, or software that can transmit information about the user across the Internet, move quickly.

“On any given day, our firewall stops 1.2 million scans from the Internet for vulnerable machines,” Corn said. “An unpatched Windows machine probably has about 20 minutes before it gets hacked.”

The patch is provided by Windows, which updates its software on the second Tuesday of each month for added protection.

CITES gets calls each day concerning virus and anti-virus problems. While these are far from the biggest concern it deals with, the phone calls are still a problem.

“It is a fairly small number (of calls), but it is definitely something that is significant,” said Chris Ritzo, assistant manager for the CITES help desk.

Corn said the University offers free anti-virus software for students, faculty and staff to use. It is a version of McAfee for both PCs and Macs.

Ritzo said CITES employees are familiar with McAfee and can assist people.

However, if a person is using another anti-virus program, the workers may be able to fix the problem, but there is no guarantee.

They may recommend the McAfee program, but students are not required to use it.

Anthony Avina, sophomore in Engineering, said he had problems with viruses when he first started using computers.

“When I first started, I didn’t know any better,” Avina said.

Because of his early virus problems, he now runs an anti-virus program frequently. He has not had any new virus or spyware problems.