Code Red fades to black

While mums and dads sat nervously on the edge of their chairs waiting for their home PCs to explode and the Internet's ‘meltdown' thanks to the evil Code Red worm and its associated media frenzy, the re-emergence of the worm has turned out to be something of an anti-climax.

While research group Computer Economics has estimated that the worm wreaked over $US1.2 billion worth of damage in terms of lost productivity and server downtime throughout its lifetime, the second wave of Code Red has fallen well short of expectations.

According to Sal Viveros, director of McAfee ASAP, the impact so far has been "pretty minimal" and the number of systems affected in the second wave of the bug would not even be close to the 500,000 servers that were affected in the first phase.

"It's spreading, but nowhere near the rate that it was spreading the first time," he said.

This could be partly attributed to the notoriety of the worm, which may have led to many people patching their systems, said Viveros.

Anything that attracts warning statements from the US Government and the FBI is destined for fame, and the Code Red worm has been no exception, with the media hyperbole surrounding the worm equalling, if not exceeding, that attached to the Anna Kournikova and I Love You viruses.

Security vendors have soaked up the atmosphere, with the likes of Russ Cooper, surgeon general of TruSecure, labelling it as "the worst security event in Internet history". He predicted "meltdown" if systems continued to go unpatched.

For now, it seems that Net denizens have avoided such a fate, although Viveros warned that it is still important to stay vigilant against Code Red copycats.

"If someone put in a different payload, it could have a serious impact on the Internet."

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Ronda Field

Computerworld
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