CERT: Zotob, esbot not major attacks

The group of attacks that include the Zotob and esbot worms aren’t major cyberattacks, the U.S. Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) said today.

“We’re not in crisis mode at this time,” said Jeff Havrilla, Internet security analyst at CERT. “We’re nowhere near the same scale of activity” that occurred when the Blaster worm leveled computers worldwide in 2003, he said.

Blaster affected hundreds of thousands of unique IP addresses, Havrilla said, while the number of addresses affected by the group of attacks including zotob and esbot has not yet reached 100,000.

The attacks prey on vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s Windows 2000 operating system, Havrilla said. CERT published an alert Aug. 9 to warn the public, but the intruder community created the worms before many users could protect themselves, he said.

The attacks’ effects on the federal government have not been large, Havrilla said. He said he has heard media reports that the attacks affected some computers on Capitol Hill, but CERT has not received any reports of attacks.

News organizations were hit hard because they may not have understood the risks of patching systems on their corporate networks, Havrilla said. Now that they’ve been attacked, he said, they’re spreading the news.

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