A new, mischievous virus routed at least 25 of the East Baton Rouge Parish, La., public school system’s 8,000 computers to pornographic web sites May 16. None of the affected computers were used by students.

The virus, called “Homepage,” was spotted earlier in May. But when it hit the school system May 16, it quickly went to work.

“You would get a piece of mail from someone and, if you opened the attachment, it would immediately begin sending out mail to all your addresses,” explained Harry Ingalls, director of information services.

The virus would steer the users’ internet browser to a series of pornographic sites. At least 25 and perhaps as many as 50 of the district’s computers were infected by the virus. The infected computers were among those used by administrators and principals. No classroom computers were infected because they don’t have eMail, Ingalls said.

The Information Services division quickly shut down the server and prohibited the passing of attachments. Nevertheless, some mail was sent.

Despite warnings that the school system issues about opening suspicious attachments, this one slipped through some computer users’ defenses because it came from their friends or colleagues, Ingalls said.

The virus is written specifically to corrupt the eMail program Microsoft Outlook, Ingalls said. “These viruses are particularly intrusive on Microsoft products,” he said.