More schools experience Windows virus, worm problems while Macs just keep working

“The ‘sobig’ virus, one of the most recent computer programs sent over e-mail with malicious intent, works by sending unsolicited ‘spam’ to addresses found on a Microsoft Windows-based operating system. The virus, as well as a variant of the old ‘Blaster’ worm, has hit some local Internet providers and educational institutions hard,” reports Jack Gillum for The Tucson Citizen.

“‘This is as much of a form of terrorism as you can get,’ said Tyler Kilian, technology director for Dakotacom.net, a local Internet service provider. Effects from the ‘sobig’ virus at Dakotacom.net surfaced early in the week, but generally are under control now, Kilian said. The company also had problems caused by the Blaster.D worm. The flood of traffic caused by the virus’ ‘spam’ has put an extra load on the ISP’s routers, which control and direct Internet traffic,” Gillum reports.

“That has meant employees have had to stay past normal shift hours to answer customer complaints and address problems. ‘Everyone’s working longer hours. The customers are frustrated,’ Kilian said. Dakotacom.net has about 2,000 high-speed DSL accounts whose service is affected by the virus. At the University of Arizona yesterday, tens of thousands of infected e-mails were coming across the campus network, said telecommunications supervisor Ted Frohling. Security teams at UA, however, have had more of a problem with the recurring Blaster.D worm, which is “extremely aggressive” in attacking individual computers and sending a flood of data to other computers on a network, Frohling said,” Gillum reports.

“In Vail Unified School District, administrators noticed a slowdown caused by the high volume of e-mails. ‘For the most part, we’ve been protected,’ said Superintendent Calvin Baker. Vail, a predominately Apple Computer-based district, has seen problems mainly with Windows machines on its campuses. Workers took some labs running those systems off the Internet and repaired them, Baker said. The district is in its fourth week of school. Apple Computer-maker Macintosh, as well as UNIX and UNIX-like operating systems, such as Linux, aren’t affected by the virus or worm, according to the antivirus software company Symantec,” Gillum reports.

Full article here.

17 Comments

  1. Boy, this just disgusts me. Why does any school need Windows PCs? What are the advantages (and spare me the they need to learn what the rest of the world uses crap) of having MS Windows (any version) for an educational institution (especially primary education)?

    I just hate seeing money wasted, semi-competent, pushy computer “experts” indulged, and students acclimatized to the mediocre computing that is MS Windows. Yuck!

  2. Exactly. My wife is a teacher in an all Windows school. Her computer work works maybe 60% of the time, and she spends far too much time trying to fix it herself since the “experts” have an entire disctrict worth of crappy PCs to handle and a work order can take up to 2 months to fill. She took one of my old Macs to school, which is about 10 years old mind you, and it’s worked flawlessly for her every day for the last year and a half. People just don’t get it.

  3. Apple’s “Think Different” is not unappropriate. The most common reason why to go Windows is because… everybody else does.

    So it is a lemming effect enforced by deep lack of computing knowledge.
    I expect a computer illiterate person to go Windows 100% of the times. It is only when you know enough to question the choice that you even think “gosh, maybe computing is not a synonim with Windows” “gosh, I do not neet Windows to send email, browse internet, watch a video clip, listen to music, exchange files, do presentations, <else>”.

    It amazes me whenever some of these lemmings realize the way they use the computer is not bounding them to a Microsoft solution.

    There are people that does not even know they can remove Windows from their PC and install something else.

  4. Yet, in spite of the latest in a series of debilitating attacks on their computers, productivity and piece of mind, a large majority of Windows users will continue to bash the Macintosh platform out of ignorance, jealousy or just plain stupidity.

    In many ways, these people deserve exactly what they are getting. ;o)

  5. I was just informed by an “IT” person that if I bought a MAC for home, I could not run Windows and have access to the Internet or have a Word Processor or Spreadsheet.

    And these people take care of our infrastructure!?!?!?!

    There was no point in arguing. My jaw just dropped and there I just stared in disbelief.

    These brainwashed lemmings live in their own window-less world called Windows and run by their benevolent dictator BG.

  6. My company just got bought out. I am now in a cubicle with my lone G4 dual 1.25ghz. Although I can see the network fine and every Wintel PC on it I could not get internet or e-mail access. The network guy says. Well I don’t know Mac lets just connect you direct to the net. How long can this really take?

    Now this is the second time I’ve sold a company. The last time it took me 3 weeks to get the IT director to spend 5 min to turn on AppleTalk (before OSX) on their NT servers. I think Apple needs to be more aggressive in educating the IT “professionals”.

    It’s amazing now that people are getting the word that mac is Unix based it tends to peak the intrest of mant IT pros. When they finnaly bit the bullet and get a new mac I hear these amazing revelations like “I can’t believe how simple and powerfull this thing is” My friend just bought one and when he askes me about how to do something I tell him to think windows then remove 5 steps. That allways seems to help.

  7. THE biggest problem with computers in education is that administrators are making the buying decisions. Dell comes along and offers these elcheapo prices and they are sucked in.Worst of all, they don’t even think about the total cost of the computers,TCO which encompases more than purchase price. Often the teachers ask for Macs only to get turned down.
    These same admins who say Macs cost more NEVER look at Apples financing for schools like their equity lease.

    Spend $50,000 and buy 30 pc’s for a lab, a few printers, software and perhaps NIC’s, maybe sound cards and other trinkets for a total of say $70,000 by the time its installed and running.

    Take that same $70,000, spend it on Macs for a 2 yr. lease and at the end of first year, school gets some 40% rebate to buy more stuff, upgrade, train teachers, whatever. At endd of lease, reup the lease and get another 10% credit or buy the hardware for $1. It’s a GREAT deal, but those admins have an attack when they hear the word “interest” and never look beyond it.

    But with more schools buying PC,s they get Wintel traind IS guys who recommend what they know,the stuff whose constant problems keeps them in a job.

    CAll it “IT JOB PRESERVATION” if you will.

    And we’re where we are with all this stuff killing the schools who are already financially strapped as is with states cutting budgets left and right.

  8. You’re absolutely right about TCO digitalczar. One thing I’ve encountered that make this fact very easy to overlook is that often times the purchase and maintanence of the computers comes from two different budgets, so the folks making the purchasing decisions couldn’t care less about the associated maintenance costs, only the sticker price. Just another example of the bloated, archane system our schools have become.

  9. I recieved the sobig virus twice yesterday in my Powerbook’s Mailbox. I even tried to open it, knowing full well that I might as well have been trying to light a match underwater.

  10. These school administrators certainly set a “great” example for our kids don’t they?

    Sheesh!

    And people wonder why the Windows idiocy continues to spread like a cancer across the face of the world’s computer using population.

  11. Windows OSes and the Mac OS are NOT equally vulnerable to viri and worms… read this: This is from a guy who knows what he is talking about:

    I’ll address several issues here. I’m a programmer by trade, and have been creating UNIX programs, filters, and drivers since ’82. I also write Windows programs using Visual Studio, and have been porting my tools from Linux to OS X since the beta. So, I think I *might* be qualified to say what I’m about to say.

    Remember: a “virus” is a set of invasive routines which have been attached to a legitimate program. A “worm” is, in essence, a detached background process.

    Creating a UNIX “virus” would require the writer to muck with program text and data segment pointers, and change the program initialization pointer from the “crt0.o” equivalent to something else. The degree of difficulty here is at least 9.5 on a scale of 1-10… even if you *do* have the source to the runtime invocation routines. Then, to screw up the system, you have to attain root privileges from within the attached routines in that user-privileged program, which is indeed quite a bit harder. It’s not impossible with the default OS X install, but it ain’t easy. It’s *much* easier to write a simple script that fools Windows into thinking that an offending program is actually something the user *wants* to run. Windows does *NOT* have user-level protections – and that’s why viruses and worms are so easy to invoke on Windows.

    Lastly: each task on a *NIX program runs in its own virtual memory space. Programs running within these virtual spaces are not allowed to “touch” devices or other system resources. Instead, programs make requests to the system for system resources. Even the graphics subsystem runs as a task under OS X. Hence, a “buffer overflow” within the OS X desktop would cause the desktop to crash and restart, but shouldn’t cause any other problems.

    Windows has incorporated graphics routines into its kernel. If you write your virus properly, the handler will execute *virus code* as the handler… and the virus has now attained system-level capabilities. The Windows kernel thinks it is running legitimate code, but it is running the virus’ code — which just happens to now be running as the system-level error handler. And, without user-level privilege protections, you can do…. anything.

    That’s how it’s done, folks.

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