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Web worms: Code Red to Warhol

By
11:48am, August 21, 2001

Striking on July 19, the so-called Code Red worm infected more than 360,000

computers throughout the world in less than 14 hours. The rapid rate at which the

worm spread, without human intervention, vividly demonstrated how such a rogue

computer program can interfere with the Internet.

The Code Red worm failed in achieving its goal: overwhelming the White House Web

site by attacking it with simultaneous messages from all the infected computers.

Nonetheless, it caused considerable disruption for everyone with vulnerable

systems. It could have been much worse.

With a more efficient infection strategy, a malicious programmer could build a

worm that attacks all vulnerable machines worldwide in about 15 minutes, says

computer science graduate student Nicholas C. Weaver of the University of

California, Berkeley. Such a worm "could cause maximum damage before people could

respond," he contends.

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