Stanford University's Information Technology Systems and
Services (ITSS) offers a comprehensive Web
site that consolidates computer security information into one place. The
site offers computer security
information for personal computer
users; system or
network administrators; and administrators,
department heads, or principal investigators .
The site's primary target audience is the typical Stanford computer user,
which is usually the student. Secure Computing offers information on
password security and securing a default operating system installation, as
well as many tools to ensure computer security, such as anti-virus
software and Stanford's authentication software. There is information
dealing with spam and harassing e-mails.
In September 2003, because of the MSBlaster worm outbreak, students who
were moving into the residences faced another task on top of their
back-to-school worries: Before they could register their in-room network
connections, students had to actively download and run an ITSS-written
tool to ensure that their computers did not have the MSBlaster worm as
well as other worms and backdoors. This unprecedented requirement of ITSS
and Residential Computing (ResComp) forced many students to understand at
a deeper level the potential damage of viruses and worms. Indirectly,
preventative action served as a form of education.
Among the many roles of Residential Computer Coordinators (RCCs),
education is among the most important ones. RCCs serve as educators in the
dorms. Working with ResComp and the other residential staff, RCCs may hold
dorm events and casual talks, and send out periodic e-mails that teach
something new about computer use and security.
While it is understandable that a significant number of Stanford computer
users only care that they can use the Internet successfully, the events
that have taken place over the past year indicate that the importance of
computer security education has increased drastically. In residences, the
RCC is not enough to help protect the network from infected computers;
users themselves are now more responsible for their own computers.
Outside of Stanford, popular and mainstream news sites such as CNN have increased the number of reports on critical
computer security issues, such as virus outbreaks and prominent security
vulnerabilities. Because many Stanford students obtain their daily news
using these news sites, they are effectively learning about computer
issues that impact their everyday lives.