‘Blaster’ worm affecting many Internet users locally
Stabroek News
August 14, 2003

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Internet users locally are suffering the effects of a fast spreading computer worm affecting the World Wide Web and several cafes and some commercial entities have become victims.

At least three companies Stabroek News understands have had their systems corrupted by the worm known as “Blaster” or “San”. Efforts to contact officials of the companies yesterday proved futile. A worm is a piece of software, designed like a virus, for sabotage.

Informed sources however told this newspaper yesterday that several unprotected Inter-net cafes have been affected and were busy accessing sites to seek remedial assistance.

According to the source, the affected cafes and private users did not have firewalls or security systems protecting their network and as such became vulnerable to the worm.

The worm, which is circulating widely in the United States and the United Kingdom, is attacking systems with Microsoft 2000 and XP especially.

Several Internet Service Providers (ISPs) provided alerts to clients on the worm threat and directed them to sites at which they could access patches and repair kits.

One ISP, GuyanaNet, in an advertisement in today’s Stabroek News advised customers about free anti-virus upgrades available to its users. The advertisement also told clients that they could call for assistance in removing the threat.

Information via the Internet says that the worm takes advantage of a vulnerability discovered three weeks ago, affecting nearly all recent versions of the Microsoft programme Windows.

According to the information, once a computer is infected the worm issues instructions for attacking the Microsoft Update Website — the same site users are being encouraged to go to for downloading patches that would protect their systems from the worm.

The worm then scans the Internet for other vulnerable computers to attack.

The worm is expected to be a headache for Internet users in homes particularly, especially those running the Windows XP version, as their computers will repeatedly crash. Experts have said it would be difficult for many of these users to figure out how to get their PCs running smoothly enough to enable patching of their system and installing anti-virus updates.

The impact is significant as most home users are not well versed in downloading patches and setting up firewalls.

Users who download and install firewalls and security patches from Microsoft, including constant updating of their anti-virus software are likely to be protected from the worm.

A local expert told this newspaper that corporate entities were only at risk if officials with laptops who are not covered by a firewall use their systems to reach the net and later use these at their workplaces. In such instances it is likely to spread throughout their network corrupting all attached computers, the expert said. (Oscar P. Clarke)

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