White House foils computer worm

White House

The White House moved quickly to make sure the computer worm that infected thousands of systems around the world did not affect its ultimate target — the main White House Web site.

The Code Red worm, which by last night had infected more than 225,000 computers, was designed to set a distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attack on the White House site's IP address.

In this attack, all of the infected systems would flood the IP address with requests, essentially blocking visitors' access to the site.

A check of the White House IP address at 198.137.240.91 showed it had been changed to 198.137.240.92, effectively foiling the worm, which was written specifically for the original address. White House officials would not confirm the change or say how they came up with a solution, but they did say they had acted July 19 to handle the problem.

"We took preventative measures to minimize any impact," spokesman Jimmy Orr said.

On the afternoon of July 19, the Federal Computer Incident Response Center (FedCIRC) issued an advisory to federal agencies from its partner, the Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center at Carnegie Mellon University. The National Infrastructure Protection Center at the FBI also issued an advisory to the government and private sector.

Both warnings included information on patches from Microsoft Corp. to address the security hole on Web servers running Microsoft IIS 4.0 and 5.0, which the worm exploited. In addition, FedCIRC last week had posted a white paper on defense tactics for DDOS attacks.

The July 19 advisories, however, came well after many others that were issued by private-sector organizations and security companies.

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