Plan for the Scan: Keep Your Computer Clean & Secure (Hypertext student newsletter)

This story written by Michael Giardina, a junior in English, was originally published in the Fall 2004 edition of the Hypertext quarterly student newsletter. Go to view a downloadable PDF of the entire newsletter.

In recent years, several destructive viruses emerged from the dark recesses of the Internet underworld, spreading quickly from computer to computer, disrupting email servers, and causing important network services to slow to a crawl. The campus has taken several steps to prevent the spread of viruses and to protect the campus community from these and other security risks. One measure the campus took this summer was to expand the vulnerability scanning system that was implemented last year to prevent viruses from damaging computers and computer networks.

What You Should Know About Vulnerability Scanning

The Plan
When you attempt to log onto a campus network resource (e.g. MyUCDavis, SISWEB, Geckomail, wireless Internet, and the modem pools), the campus scans the computer for viruses and other critical security vulnerabilities. If your computer is vulnerable or already infected, you may be denied access to these important computing resources in order to protect other computers on the network and the network as a whole. When access is denied, instructions for fixing the problem will be provided. When no vulnerability or infection is found, you may log onto the campus network without interruption.

The Scan
When the campus scans for one or more critical vulnerabilities, you will get one of three possible scan results:

1)\tYour computer is a clean, mean, fighting machine:
If your computer is not vulnerable to the security threats the campus is scanning for, you will instantly be logged into the network. You might not even realize that your computer was scanned. < br>2)\tYour computer has a common cold and needs some attention:
If your computer has a minor virus or is vulnerable to a security threat that is not particularly critical, you'll see a warning screen and instructions for getting your computer cleaned up, but you won't be prevented from logging on.
3)\tYour computer hasn't had its shots, so we're keeping our distance: If your computer is infected with a critical virus or is very susceptible to security threats, you might harm the campus network. For this reason, you will be prevented from accessing the network until you have fixed the problem. Don't worry, though: you will be provided with instructions for regaining access.

What You Can Do Now
There are a number of things you can do now to avoid being denied access to the campus network. These things can and should be done regularly to make sure your computer is the clean, mean fighting machine it was meant to be.

1)\tTest your computer at the Security Vulnerability Self-Scan Web site. This tool scans for both present and past vulnerabilities and offers instructions for fixing your computer when problems are found.
2)\tInstall anti-virus software, which is available to students for free at
3)\tDownload operating system (OS) updates. For more info about OS updates, see
4)\tSet up Spam Filtering at
5)\tProtect yourself against "spoof" emails sent by identity thieves. Read the IT Express? "Spot the Spoof" article at
6)\tLearn more about security basics at Security 101.