Computer Worms Attack Windows Machines - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

08/17/05

Computer Worms Attack Windows Machines

There's a new computer worm keeping technicians around the world busy. It affects computers running Microsoft's Windows 2000. It makes them crash, restart and crash again.

Last week, Microsoft announced there was a problem with Windows 2000. Hackers could get in. They released a patch--a sort of software update to fix the security hole--but many companies around the world didn't take the precaution. And now, they're paying the price.

Every time Microsoft announces another security problem with its Windows operating system--which it does a lot--the hackers move in. Only they seem to be getting faster.

"Over time, we have been moving closer and closer to that day zero attack," said Mark Lobel with Price Waterhouse Cooper. "This Zotob virus is the closest yet. Announced Sunday, exploits were almost immediately available."

In the case of the so-called Zotob worm, computers running Windows 2000 display a warning message--shutdown in 60 seconds. Moments later, computers reboot, only to show the same warning message. Then they shut down and start up again. And again.

Interestingly, media outlets CNN, ABC News, and the New York Times were among the companies targeted. Even computers on Capitol Hill have been infected.

Like all worms, Zotob is evolving. Hackers keep releasing newer versions.

"Later there are over six variants that are attacking companies across the world," said Lobel.

Now, there's a whole family of worms targeting this Windows vulnerability. With names like IRCBot and Bozori, they are not only disrupting systems, but according to security watchdog F-Secure, they're actually deleting each other, as if hackers are competing to make the biggest mess.

Windows 2000 is not that common on home computers, so most of the trouble has been at companies. But no matter what operating system you use, you need to keep it up to date.

You can get the latest security information online: http://www.microsoft.com/security/.

We've talked with local security professionals who tell us outbreaks in the Savannah area have been mild. There've been a couple of infections they were able to clean up in a few hours.

Reported by: Charles Gray, cgray@wtoc.com

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