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SAN DIEGO – The so-called SQL Slammer worm that snarled the Internet recently is a type that confirmed what some computer scientists had been fearing: the development of viruses and worms that can shut down the World Wide Web with alarming speed. According to a report from a government-sponsored think tank – the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis – the worm’s infection rate doubled in size every 8.5 seconds after it first appeared on Jan. 25, and reached the full rate at which it was scanning for vulnerable computers, at more than 55 million scans per second, after about three minutes. That put it into the realm of what theorists have dubbed the “Warhol worm,” or one that could infect the entire Internet in 15 minutes. (Pop culture icon Andy Warhol created the notion that everyone will get their “15 minutes of fame” once in their lives.) Hundreds of thousands of computers were affected globally, and the outbreak even snarled some ATM networks, most notably Bank of America’s. CUNA Network Services said the Internet backbone provider it uses to host credit union sites also was affected for a time over that weekend. “The novel feature of this worm, compared to all the other worms we’ve studied, is its incredible speed: it flooded the Internet with copies of itself so aggressively that it basically clogged the available bandwidth and interfered with its own growth,” said David Moore, an Internet researcher at the CAIDA in the San Diego Supercomputer Center. The worm exploited a known vulnerability in Microsoft SQL servers used for database management, and MSDE 2000, a mini version of SQL for desktop use. The patch had been available since last summer but was not installed in many locations. An animation of the spread of the worm is at http://www.sdsc.edu/Press/03/020403_SAPPHIRE.html -

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