Holland students urged to avoid file sharing

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Richard MacDonald, head of Computer Services for Holland College

 

     Some students don’t realize the harm they can cause by using programs such as Limewire and Bit Torrent on school computers, said Richard MacDonald, head of Computer Services at Holland College.

     MacDonald is urging students to avoid using these programs on school computers because of the potential these file sharing sites have for infecting the system with viruses and Trojan horses.

     MacDonald said the damage in which these programs can inflict on each computer cause them to have to be refreshed, with all of the software having to be re-installed.

     “It’s very time consuming and it’s time we don’t have to waste. Not only is it a waste of our time but also of the professors and the students who have to deal with the effects of these viruses. It can take up to four hours for each incident.”

     Once Computer Services is alerted about a virus which has infected the system, the problem has to be investigated and each machine must be checked over and then all of them must be cleaned up and then the professor of the student who caused the problem is notified, he said.

     “Disciplinary action is varied on a case to case basis. If this is the first incident, the student is given a warning but if the student does it a second time, it could have a negative impact on the professionalism portion of their grade.”

     “Most students who have infected the computers didn’t realize the harm they had caused and they have felt bad about and these things do happen. But there are also those who just want to use the infrastructure for their own convenience, however, these students are the minority.”

     If prevention of such infections is not managed, the network will be a slow mess with viruses everywhere and the computers within the network will not work properly, he said.

     “We have to deal with each case to prevent a bigger mess.”

     MacDonald recalled an incident, which happened five years ago. Every computer on the Holland College campus had been infected with a virus (at the time this was a total of 1200 computers), he said.

     He said the team at Computer Services had to check over all of the computers in each building of the college campus. With the time it took to look at and clean up every computer, as well as get into each building, it took an entire weekend to delete the virus.

     “It was a very nasty virus. Imagine dealing with the problem of a single home computer and multiply that by 1200. This is why we are urging students to be careful with these programs. We are trying to prevent something like this from happening again.”

     MacDonald said he appreciate the efforts of the majority of students to use the computers properly.

     “The more help we get from all of the students, the better it is for all of us.”

      

     

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