“Blaster” invades city

By Ryan Lengerich

Unfortunately, business has been booming this week for the Tucumcari technology company ShipleySystems LLC.

Since Tuesday the company received a barrage of calls from concerned customers with computers infected by the “Blaster” virus that has debilitated personal computers and business systems worldwide.

Ed Shipley, co-owner of the family run business said he has received over 100 calls about the virus, but he doesn’t necessarily see that as a positive.

“Actually, this is the worst work we do in the shop and we try to do it at a reasonable price because we feel bad for them,” Shipley said. “It seems like this is the worst virus that has hit Tucumcari in a long time.”

The virus can affect computers running Microsoft Windows XP, 2000, NT or Windows Server 2003. The virus is most likely to invade computers with constant connection to the Internet and is not an e-mail or attachment virus.

As the Internet starts up, an infected computer will run for a short time before warning the user that the system will shut down. Shipley said the virus has been found in as many as eight mutated forms, but the virus’ mildest forms can be fixed by the user.

Shipley said depending on the virus’ severity, the problem can be handled over the phone, online or with directions available at ShipleySystems. He said the virus does not appear to damage the computer system.

“This particular virus is more of a nuisance,” Shipley said. “It does not appear from the information we have that there is any long term effect from it.”

Jim Morgan, Internet technology director at Mesaland Community College said the virus has not had an effect on the school’s system. While the students do not have a school e-mail address in which to be notified, Morgan said information is spread to the faculty and then to the students.

“It’s pretty much word of mouth,” he said. “But we’re small and it seems word of mouth works well.”

Tucumcari is not the only infected city in eastern New Mexico. Kathy McGuire, an employee at Aqua Computer Service in Clovis, who also works independently, said the virus is also the reason for most of the phone calls.

“Thirty or so in the last week, “ she said. “I personally removed six yesterday and I am going to do five more today — and I don’t even advertise.”

Shipley said many people are scared to use their systems automatic updates for fear Microsoft is invading their computer. He said the best way to avoid any virus is to install virus software and constantly update the computer.

“We have 15 or 20 in the shop right now,” he said. “If everyone with a computer would buy an anti-virus program and would keep up with all of the downloads, viruses would be something we wouldn’t have to deal with.”