DOD blocks worm, Web access

Military sites shut down while systems are secured against the Code Red computer worm

The Defense Department has blocked public access to most of its Web sites in response to the threat posed by the Code Red Worm.

The department started shutting down access late last week and will continue to do so until the worm is no longer considered a threat, Army Maj. Barry Venable said July 23. Venable is spokesman for U.S. Space Command, which oversees offensive and defensive cyber operations.

"We have blocked public access to .mil sites as a precautionary measure while we are validating that the appropriate patches for this known vulnerability are in place to protect the department's 2.5 million computers and 10,000 networks," Venable said. "Once we have ensured the appropriate patches and corrective actions are in place, we will make those sites accessible."

Some security experts have reported an apparent increase in the number of manual attacks corresponding with the release of the worm, leading to speculation it might be a distraction that is masking other, more sophisticated attacks, but Venable said that while the department has seen an increase in vulnerability scans, it has seen no evidence of correlating attacks.

In anticipation of critics who might say the shutdown of public information is too drastic a measure, Venable apologized for the inconvenience but explained it is far more important to keep the department's information systems up and running to prevent any disruption of the military mission.

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