Fast spreading Internet worm Slammer creates havoc in India

Monday, 27 January 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: Indian businesses raced to clean up their computer systems Monday as a rapidly spreading Internet worm slowed down access for users across the world.

Industry observers say Monday has brought new outbreaks of the computer worm in India, dubbed as SQL Slammer, which badly affected private business and government Internet networks in different parts of the world Saturday.

"As most of the private and government business establishments were closed on Saturday and Sunday, the intensity of the menace could not be gauged earlier," said Anil Menon, senior vice president (operations) of Secure Synergy.

"Since early Monday, our helpdesk has been flooded with calls from companies who are facing trouble in accessing the Internet. We are receiving damage reports from private companies as well as government agencies," Menon told IANS on the phone from Mumbai.

According to Secure Synergy, one of India's leading technology security solutions providers, Indian companies may lose as much as 3.50 billion a day because of the worm.

The worm, which spreads through network connections, exploited a weakness in Microsoft Corp's Windows 2000 SQL server database software.

Experts called the worm the most damaging attack on the Internet in 18 months. Networks across Asia, Europe and the U.S. were effectively shut down last weekend.

The timing of the attack has led to claims of cyber terrorism but so far nobody has worked out who was behind it.

"Slammer is basically a worm and not a virus because it does not delete or touch data. But it crashes servers and congests traffic on the Internet, slowing some corporate systems to the point of inaccessibility," said Menon.

"It really generates a lot of artificial network traffic. It is just going to slow down Internet performance."

The official said most of the companies were cleaning up their computer systems early Monday and more damage to servers at smaller firms was expected.

"This is badly affecting two types of businesses in India. The first is the business-to-business transaction segment and the other is the IT Enabled Services segment," said Menon.

Industry analysts say the spreading of the Internet worm in a country like India can cause huge financial and productivity loss, as many businesses overlook the odd technology security alerts.

"Companies should have been ready for the worm after it created havoc in other parts of the world last weekend," said a technology industry analyst with credit rating firm ICRA India Ltd.

"The problem is expected to compound here because very few companies pay any attention to systems security management."

Menon said that the network technicians must rush to fix the vulnerability to avoid infection and prevent further outbreaks in the country. "While the crisis has peaked, I think it will take few weeks to play itself out."

According to Menon, companies should install a Microsoft patch to prevent further infection and infected networks should be cleaned up by rebooting the system.

Source: IANS
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