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Tuesday, 16 October, 2001, 12:03 GMT 13:03 UK
Web attacks on the rise
Worm can spread over the internet
Computer attacks becoming more common
The number of cyber-attacks is escalating, with incidents set to double compared with last year, according to a US internet security watchdog.

The Computer Emergency Response Team (Cert) said that it had recorded nearly 35,000 security incidents so far this year, far more than the total for the whole of 2000.

If cyber attacks continue at the same rate, the total number could reach 46,000, more than twice the 21,756 incidents reported last year.

The figures by the US Government-funded early warning centre based at Carnegie Mellon University include reports from companies or organisations that are victims of computer hacking, worms, viruses or other attacks.

Software holes

The security centre also warned of a rise in the number of software vulnerabilities.

Security incidents
1998: 3,734
1999: 9,859
2000: 21,756
Jan-Sept 2001: 34,754
So far, it has noted more than 1,800 security holes in programs, almost double the amount for the whole of last year.

The security centre did not say whether this was the result of more vulnerable programs or due to greater vigilance.

In the past few months, internet security has been threatened by several malicious worms such as Code Red and Nimda. Both these worms exploited vulnerabilities in Microsoft programs.

The original variant of Code Red infected more than 250,000 machines in only a few hours in August.

The virus caused an estimated US$2.6 billion in damage.

Malicious worm

A month later, a worm called Nimda hit thousands of computer networks across the world.

It was described as the fastest-spreading computer virus ever.

It used numerous methods to spread itself around the internet exploiting the weaknesses of Microsoft programs.

In its annual report for 2000, Cert listed denial of service attacks and the Love Letter worm among the most serious attacks on computer security.

See also:

19 Sep 01 | Sci/Tech
Nimda virus loose online
19 Sep 01 | Sci/Tech
Q&A: The Nimda virus
06 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
New worm infects the net
02 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
Code Red threat tailing off
01 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
Code Red keeps world guessing
31 Jul 01 | Sci/Tech
Internet put on Code Red alert
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