Worms and Viruses: In the news
"Up to 3,000 campus computers were infected with three waves of hacker
attacks last week -- 2,800 systems with the MS Blaster Worm alone -- and the
numbers continue to climb with the appearance yesterday of a new virus..."
(August 21, 2003)|
"A new computer virus has struck 600 to 800 campus computers over the
span of several weeks. Commonly known as Gaobot, Agobot or Phatbot, the
virus has grown through several methods..."
(April 26 2004)|
The academic year 2003-2004 saw numerous Stanford's campus computers
infected by the MS Blaster Worm and the
Gaobot worm, not only causing widespread loss of data, but also
resulting in many computers compromised by hackers, who could steal valuable
personal information and passwords.
The first incident, concerning the MS Blaster Worm, in Summer 2003,
exploited a "RPC buffer overflow" vulnerability in computers running
Microsoft Windows NT, 2000 and XP. Even though the vulnerability was first
idendified by Microsoft in mid-July, and patches were released at the same
time, many campus computers were still affected, allowing hackers to take
control of many computers. The seriousness of the hacker attacks over the
summer prompted Residential Computing (ResComp) to take the drastic measure of
forcing each incoming and returning student in the fall to run a series of
checks to ensure that their computers are free of viruses before enabling
their internet connections.
Updating Windows regularly is one of the ways of keeping your computer safe
Even after students were exposed to the vulnerabilities of their
computers at the start of the year through the stringent ResComp
requirements, many of them were still hit by the
Gaobot worm, which preyed on users with weak passwords, or those who did
not set an Administrator password when they installed their Windows
operating systems. Furthermore, many did not run WindowsUpdate regularly,
or did not see a need to install a critical update when it is released by
With hackers and virus writers becoming more sophisticated, and
campus computer users continuing to be ignorant or lazy about protecting
themselves from viruses and worms, it is certain that Stanford will
continue to be affected by computer security issues in the future.