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Computing sessions required for freshmen

Scott Brodfuehrer | Thursday, August 21, 2003

The proliferation of viruses and worms on computers connected to the Internet has prompted both Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s to schedule mandatory computing sessions for first-year students.”It is primarily an awareness-raising session on viruses and threats and how to compute safely on the network,” said Gary Dobbins, director of information security for Notre Dame’s Office of Information Technologies.The 15-minute sessions at Notre Dame will be held Aug. 25 in DeBartolo Hall at Notre Dame and in O’Laughlin Auditorium at Saint Mary’s.Worms in the past have spread widely across both campus networks. Officials will instruct students on how to install AntiVirus software and other techniques to keep their computers safe.The Blaster worm, which exploits a vulnerability in the latest Microsoft operating systems, has the potential to infect computers that have not been patched once they connect to the Internet. To respond to this threat, Notre Dame has prepared a limited number of patch CDs that will be available.Keith Folkes, director of information technology at Saint Mary’s, said the College’s technology orientation will also address the issue of file sharing. Notre Dame’s session will not directly discuss illegal file sharing but will instead address the security implications of installing peer-to-peer file-sharing applications.The Recording Industry Association of America has begun to issue subpoenas to determine the identity of persons who are using illegally-obtained, copyrighted files, with the intention of filing lawsuits against these users.In the past, both schools have been issued “cease and desist” orders, which require that users possessing copyrighted files delete them. In these cases, a student’s identity was not disclosed. However, a subpoena requires that the school turn over the name of the user, which would put the offender at risk of legal action. Notre Dame chief information officer Gordon Wishon said that, while the University’s responsible use policy has not changed, the climate of the music industry targeting file sharing has changed.”We are advising all students to think very carefully about the degree to which they put themselves at legal risk by downloading or sharing copyrighted files,” Wishon said.For more information about file sharing on campus, see the article next week in The Observer.