Virus disrupts school computers

Thursday, Feb. 9, 2006

Students and administrators got a taste of what life would be like without technology on Friday when a virus shut down 10,000 computers at Frederick County’s public schools.

According to Marita Loose, spokesperson for the school system, technology services personnel began a systemwide virus detection early last week, but by Feb. 2, discovered that the virus had entered the schools’ network through e-mail. Loose said there is no way to trace exactly which computer the virus first accessed.

The virus, which goes by many names including ‘‘Kama Sutra” and ‘‘Blackmail,” was designed to infect machines and on Friday start destroying files created with Microsoft Office, such as accounting spreadsheets and text documents. The virus was also designed to destroy files on shared drives, such as those used by the schools.

‘‘This was pretty nasty,” Loose said. ‘‘As far as we know, nothing has been lost and our information is safe.”

Upon discovering evidence of the virus well after school hours on Feb. 2, technicians immediately began to protect information while other staff contacted administrators at all schools and other offices to order a complete shut down of all computers, Loose said. The shutdown affected all 10,000 personal computers, from those used in computer labs for students to the computers of several top administrators. By Monday, the final batch of computers was brought back on-line.