Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

10 Ellul 5761 - August 29, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Observations: Worm Wreaks Havoc in Business Computers
by B. Kravitz

The Code Red worm is not just another computer worm. So far it has nibbled its way into 250,000 computers around the world, and a computer systems protection company predicts that another two million potential targets may be vulnerable to its terrorist-like attacks.

The computer worm harms business computers, often servers, that run on Windows NT and 2000, but does not affect home computers that run on Windows 95 or Windows 98.

The Sense Institute, which is assisting US federal investigators to neutralize the virus, says that Code Red has already reached peak levels and has been dropping off. "Like a disease, the breaking point is already behind us, but to uproot it completely we still have a long way to go," say company sources.

The worm knows no borders, and could spread further, contaminating computers outside of the U.S. as well, since many computer users in other countries have not downloaded the appropriate anti-virus program.

Michael Arbashlo, director of research at an economic consulting company in California, estimates that cleanup expenses could come to $740 million, and losses resulting from missed work hours as a result of the virus are expected to reach $450 million.

Checking systems for the devastating worm is no simple matter. Information technologies specialists do not come cheap, but many companies have been forced to use them despite their high fees, paying up to $300 per hour to check their servers.

The consulting company estimates that six million servers are still exposed to the worm.

* * *

Code Red is not the only one making a name for itself in U.S. computers. Another virus, known as Sircam, has wreaked havoc at a Ukrainian news site. The virus has been flooding the site with secret documents from Ukrainian president Leonid Kochman and sending intriguing classified files, all via e- mail.

The Ukrainian president is the model of secrecy. He shrouds himself in mystery, carefully concealing all of his daily movements, but Sircam has managed to undermine his strict measures, and President Kochman's schedule at ceremonies to mark the tenth anniversary of Ukrainian independence have been publicized all over the Net.

His officials are currently investigating whether there was a breach of security, and whether additional viruses have contaminated any other computers in his bureau.

Sircam is a virus rather than a worm, in that it cannot propagate itself but relies on the host system to do so. We still get this virus in our e- mail several times a week. If you simply delete it without opening it, no harm is done.

If you get any e-mail containing a file with a name that ends with the letters "EXE", "BAT", "PIF", "COM", even if it is from a trusted correspondent, simply delete it right away. It does not matter what is in the name before those last three letters. If those are the last three letters and you are not expecting the file, just delete it first and ask questions afterwards. If you do not click on the suspect file to open it, it cannot harm your computer.


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