"Worm" Intruder Fouls Up Microsoft Servers

The latest virus running amok on the Internet was intended to ultimately foul-up the White House web site. The White House was able to protect itself from the attack, but the virus -- or more accurately -- the worm, did make a mess out of other computer systems around the country. The intruder started showing up Thursday...first in Seattle Washington, home of Microsoft, and then spreading quickly and specifically to Microsoft-based Internet servers or master computers across the country. "Most people don't know to go and lock it down. It's somebody else who works in the office, who is knowledgeable about the computer, so now we wanna have a web site, so we'll put an Internet information server in and even though the person knows enough to put together a fairly decent web site, they don't know anything about the security end and they leave that hole open," says Jim White, an Internet Security Expert who works for Automation Services in Cape Girardeau. People browsing the internet would see -- instead of the web site they were trying to visit -- the message: "welcome to worm.com, hacked by Chinese". But the exact origin of the worm still isn't clear. "It might be somebody Chinese who is signing their work, but there is no guarantee of that," says White. The "Code Red" worm as it's now known, ultimately leads to what is called a denial-of-service attack. It does that by commandeering numerous unsuspecting server computers to flood the White House web site with so many requests for information, that the White House server breaks down trying to answer all the calls. That was supposed to have happened by 8 o'clock Thursday night, but was successfully prevented when the White House switched Internet addresses. "That's the nice thing about being the President, is you can switch from one site to another almost instantaneously, which is not something you or I have available to us," adds White. In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of computer systems worldwide are still struggling to clean-out the intruder, but most computer users will not see any breach of their home computers. Symantec and Microsoft both offer free downloads for dealing with the security breach, from their web sites. Microsoft has offered the security patch on their site for some time, now, and Symantec is the maker of the widely-used Norton anti virus program.