Local technicians fend off ‘Blaster’ worm attack By Oscar P. Clarke
Stabroek News
August 15, 2003

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The problems initially expected locally from the computer worm affecting the World Wide Web were not as widespread as first feared nor did it lead to much downtime at affected companies.

At Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) and its subsidiary Demerara Shipping Company Limited (DSL) the situation was successfully rectified on Tuesday because the worm was dealt with quickly after it was discovered, according to Management Information Systems operative, Christopher Trigg.

Initial fears among local internet users began receding yesterday, one day after some of their systems started showing traces of a worm first detected in the US on Monday.

Local beverage giants DDL as well as telecommunication company, GT&T were among the firms whose systems were affected as the `Blaster’ worm weaved its way through the World Wide Web.

A worm is a piece of software, designed like a virus, for sabotage.

The worm, which originated in the United States on Monday, has caused computers using Microsoft Windows 2000 and XP programmes to repeatedly crash and reboot, frustrating users trying to initiate changes to counteract the problem.

The computer systems at both DDL and its subsidiary DSL, Stabroek News was told, had suffered a hit from the worm requiring remedial attention from its management information systems department. Trigg told this newspaper that a three-stage approach was taken to correct the problem. Initially a removal tool was installed followed by a patch to correct the flaw in the Windows programme and then a virus check was run using an undated list of definitions.

Similar attention was applied to the system at GT&T where the worm was first identified at the end of the working day on Tuesday, Director, Management Information Services, Wystan Robertson said yesterday.

According to Robertson, technicians attached to the telephone company within an hour were able to neutralise the worm and avoid any significant disruption to the network.

He confirmed that the company’s computer system was protected by a firewall. It is suspected that its infection might have resulted from a dial-up user.

This, a source had said, could occur when persons with laptops, after using them at home where they are generally connected to the open-sourced Internet, take them into their protected work environment.

Microsoft technicians had expected the worm’s infection rate to peak on Tuesday. The impact of the worm was expected to be particularly hard on home users who in most cases are not versed in downloading patches and installing firewalls.

However unlike viruses which depend on user intervention such as opening an e-mail attachment to spread, worms can propagate rapidly to other computers without any action by the user.

To clear corrupted machines users are advised to download security patches from authorised sites including Symantec.com along with repair tools.

It is also recommended that users install or subscribe to anti-virus systems.

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