Star Tribune Web site reopens to on-campus computers

Access to the Star Tribune’s Web site has reopened after St. Thomas’ Information Resources and Technologies blocked it this morning to fend off a malware infection that infiltrated multiple computers on campus.

IRT Director of Client Services Jenn Haas said the Star Tribune contacted IRT around noon and said it had removed the virus from the site. After testing to confirm the removal, IRT unblocked the site around 2:30 p.m.

IRT was contacted by clients early this morning who complained about computer problems after visiting the Star Tribune’s site. IRT was able to test and reproduce the infection from the site and decided to block it from the St. Thomas network.

IRT contacted the Star Tribune, which confirmed the virus was being transmitted through an advertisement on its site.

Haas said she was aware of about 30 infections on campus before the site was blocked at 9:30 a.m. IRT has found how to clean infected St. Thomas-owned machines.

“We’re now working on what to tell students and staff who have this on personally owned machines,” Haas said. IRT hopes to have a cleaning process nailed down by Monday evening and plans to post the process on its alert page.

Malware, short for malicious software, is a computer code designed to infiltrate and infect vulnerable computers. The Star Tribune infection is characterized by showing users an anti-virus software advertisement called “Antivirus Soft,” which asks users to upgrade their anti-virus software. After the ad appears it cannot be closed, and Haas said it renders computers “almost inoperable.”

Haas said this is the first virus IRT has dealt with from the Star Tribune site.

Jordan Osterman contributed to this report.

Ben Katzner can be reached at