“Red” Fails at White House

WASHINGTON — An Internet virus dubbed “Code Red” failed to shut down the White House Web site, even after marshaling the power of hundreds of thousands of computers in its attack.

The virus has infected more than 225,000 computer systems around the world, computer security experts said. The virus defaces Web sites maintained by those computers with the message “Hacked By Chinese,” but the origin of the virus is unknown.

The ultimate goal of the virus, known as a “worm,” is to gather strength by spreading among computers and then have them all attack a numerical Internet address that represents the White House Web site. The assault, which was set to go off at 8 p.m. EDT Thursday, is a denial of service attack, designed to hamper or shut down a computer system by flooding it with huge amounts of data.

The White House shifted its Web site to a different numerical address, apparently to dodge the attack, said Stephen Trilling, director of research at Symantec Corp. of Cupertino, Calif., a computer security company.

White House spokeswoman Jeanie Mamo would say only that the White House had “taken preventative measures aimed at minimizing any impact from the computer virus known as the Code Red worm.”

The FBI’s National Infrastructure Protection Center issued a warning late Thursday, calling the virus a significant threat that could “degrade services running on the Internet.”

At least 225,000 computers were infected, according to the CERT Coordination Center, the government-funded computer emergency response team at Carnegie Mellon University.
Vulnerable computers are those running the server software with the Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 or Windows 2000 operating system.

Only computers set to use English as their language will have their Web pages defaced.

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