Janesville38.3°

Virus reinfects school district Web site

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
October 28, 2008
— The Janesville School District’s Web site was taken down Monday after a link to a computer virus was discovered.

The link was to the same virus that attacked the district’s computer system Sept. 19 and forced the district to take the Web site down at that time.


The Sept. 19 virus also caused widespread disruptions, cutting user access to a variety of programs and files.


Computer disruptions continue at some school buildings, but district staff and outside consultants have come a long way in restoring the system, said Doug Bunton, district business director.


Part of the virus’ attack included installing a link to itself in the district’s Web site, said Brandon Keirns, manager of information technology. So when someone accessed the site, the virus tried to download itself to visitors’ computers.


Antivirus software can thwart such attacks. Keirns said it’s possible that someone without the antivirus software who accessed the site Monday morning could have downloaded the virus.


The problem reappeared when someone was updating the Web site Monday. The person used a version of a district Web page that still contained a link to the virus, Keirns said.


When a Janesville Gazette reporter accessed the Web site Monday morning, the Gazette’s antivirus software apparently detected a threat and deleted it. The Gazette informed school district officials, who took their site down.


The Web site should be repaired within 24 hours, Keirns said Monday afternoon.


The virus is a new version of an old virus known as Virut. The new version is Virut!.gen, Keirns said.


Most of the damage was limited to the district’s computer servers, according to district memos. Servers had to be rebuilt. The last of the server rebuilds was completed Monday morning, Bunton said.


Bunton said he hoped that by this afternoon, all the drives teachers and students use would be restored.


Bunton said “a lot of loose ends” still need to be cleaned up, and he knows staff frustrations will continue until all the issues have been resolved.


“We’re now in the process of installing a new, more effective antivirus program,” an Oct. 17 memo stated.


The Janesville School Board is expected to hear an update on the situation when it meets at 7 p.m. today.



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