Compuler virus targets White House - Officials say it may have affected 225,000 hosts
22nd July 2001 (The Sun)

WASHINGTON, Sat: Security experts yesterday warned of a rapidly spreading new virus designed to make computers launch attacks against the White House Website.

A White House spokesman said officials were aware of the reports and were taking unspecified "preventiye" measures.

The threat of the Code Red virus which attacks Web servers" rather than PCs was serious enough to prompt a warning by the government-funded CERT Coordination Centre.

CERT said, the virus "may have already affected as many as 225,000 hosts and continues to spread rapidly" and may affect the performance of some networks. Later yesterday; experts said the number of computers affected had topped 300,000.

Experts said the Code Red virus has been spreading through a vulnerability in certain Microsoft Web servers. In infecting computers, the virus could create "zombies" that could be programmed to attack the White HoUSe or other sites.

"The Code Red worm takes advantage ora buffer overrun vulnerability, discovered last month, allowing the attacker to gain control over an affected server and deface Websites, orchestrate denial of service attacks, reform at hard drives or perform other. illegal acts," said the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA).

"This is an extremely serious attack," said JTAA president Harris Miller.

The virus has defaced a number of Websites, inserting the message, "Welcome to http://www.!

Hacked by Chinese!" according to the security firm Symantre.

EliasLevy chief technology officer at California-based SecurityFocus, said new variants of the virus were appearing that were rapidly infecting sites across the Internet.

Levy said despite the message, it was not clear whether the virus had originated in China or was made to make people think it came from China. "Other than the message and the fact that it attacks the White House, we have no indication thatit is of Chmese origin," Levy said.

In May, the White House acknowledged that the site had been temporarily shut amid a volley of attacks between Chinese and US hackers. but officials said they had not determined the source of the attacks. -AFP