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EDITIONS
 Sunday, 26 January, 2003, 09:12 GMT
Cyber attack 'under control'
home pc user
The attack targeted Microsoft database software
Internet traffic appears to be returning to normal after a computer attack slowed systems around the world for several hours on Saturday, computer security experts say.

Everybody seems to be getting it under control

Howard Schmidt
Cyber-security adviser to President Bush
A White House adviser on internet security said the problem was being resolved.

Hundreds of thousands of computer systems are thought to have been affected

The attack was detected by the FBI shortly after it was launched on Saturday, limiting the damage.

"It's not debilitating," said Howard Schmidt, one of President Bush's cyber-security advisers. "Everybody seems to be getting it under control."

The slowdown - caused by what is known as a computer "worm" - affected web browsing and e-mail delivery.

Asian slowdown

Computer experts said the effect was similar to that of the "Code Red" virus, which brought internet traffic to a halt in the summer of 2001.

Companies need to take applying patches against new security threats seriously

Graham Cluley
Expert at anti-virus company Sophos

The worm is a malicious code which targets internet servers and does not infect home computers.

At least five of the internet's 13 major hubs were targeted in Saturday's attack.

Internet surfing in Asia was particularly slow.

In South Korea internet services shut down nationwide for hours on Saturday.

Users and news media also reported outages or slowdowns in Thailand, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and India.

Endless loop

The malicious code exploits a vulnerability in internet software from Microsoft, called the SQL Server, which was first identified in July 2002.

The code instructs the server to go into an endless loop, continually sending out data to other computers.

Unlike viruses, the worm exists only in memory, so it cannot be detected by traditional anti-virus scanners.

The Microsoft website has a fix for the vulnerability, which companies can download.

"Companies need to take applying patches against new security threats seriously," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at the anti-virus company Sophos.

"If you don't then stopping new worms and viruses is as easy as catching smoke in a butterfly net."

See also:

25 Jan 03 | Technology
25 Jan 03 | Technology
26 Nov 02 | Technology
09 May 02 | Science/Nature
26 Dec 02 | Technology
Links to more Technology stories are at the foot of the page.


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