The Internet is plagued by a growing number of computer viruses and worms, the most dangerous of which can modify or even delete data from your computer while even the most benign can so severely affect the performance of a computer or network as to make it virtually unusable. Since it is possible for only a few infected systems to overwhelm the entire network, we must inspect each student's computer before allowing access. We also maintain a firewall on the network that will not allow connections to many network services (file-sharing and gaming services especially). We do this to address security and bandwidth concerns. While we strive for balance between individual convenience and overall security and utility, we may often err in favor of the network. Should this cause too much inconvenience, please contact the IS Department and we may be able to accommodate you.
We require that each computer have up-to-date antivirus software and operating system patches installed. We have found Symantec Norton Antivirus (http://www.symantec.com) to be the easiest to use and most reliable, though other programs will work: McAfee VirusScan (http://www.mcafee.com) and TrendMicro AntiVirus (http://us.trendmicro.com) to name just two. All of these programs require annual subscription fees to maintain up-to-date virus protection. Many new computer systems are sold with antivirus software installed but will be enabled with a short-term subscription. Check your expiration date! Antivirus software can usually be configured to automatically check with the manufacturer for updates when an Internet connection is available. Whether it is an automatic or manual process on your computer it should be completed (and verified) at least once per week. The software should also be configured to scan all files whenever they are accessed. For additional peace of mind a ""complete system scan"" should be run periodically.
Many of the viruses and worms now available take advantage of flaws in popular operating systems (Microsoft Windows, Apple/Mac, Linux). To prevent their spread (and intrusion on your computer) you need to keep your system up-to-date. Microsoft offers a ""Windows Update"" system accessible through the program menu, Microsoft Internet Explorer, the Control panel or by browsing to http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com. Apple also provides operating system updates which are accessible through system preferences or by opening the apple menu and clicking Software Update. These systems can be configured to automatically update your computer when an Internet connection is available or can be run manually. Either way you should check for updates at least once per week. Some Linux vendors offer similar services but their use varies widely.
We also recommend the installation and use of spyware removal software. Spyware includes web cookies and other data-mining objects and can attempt to collect personal or other sensitive information from your computer and communicate this information to unknown parties. Spyware can also ""hijack"" your web browser, slow down your computer and network connections, and generally make your computing life miserable. The most effective applications to combat this are SpyBot: Search & Destroy and Ad-Aware . These are free to non-commercial end-users, frequently updated, and should be used together.
In the course of our inspection, we are interested in your computer's operating system version and patch condition, and the presence of a current, anti-virus application that can be updated.
There are a few things you can do just before packing your computer for shipping to Fisher College that will dramatically speed up the process:
- If you use Microsoft Windows XP or Vista, make sure your operating system can be updated! If the system has not been ""registered"" with Microsoft and you do not have a valid registration key, it cannot be patched and we will not allow it on the network. You will need to purchase a valid system license before we will allow network access.
- Make sure you have installed the latest Operating System updates.
- Make sure your anti-virus software is updated and that your anti-virus subscription lasts the duration of the semester. If you need to re-subscribe to an update system try to do so before you arrive on campus.
- Run a complete (all files, all hard-drives) anti-virus scan just before bringing your computer in for inspection.
If a system appears to be in good working order, we will simply need to verify its condition and you will be allowed network access fairly quickly. Otherwise, we will need to ensure that all the above criteria have been met. This can be a very lengthy process, and may take several hours to complete.