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January 27, 2003—In this issue:
1. NEWS AND VIEWS
- Internet Endures Blistering Attack
- Microsoft Renames Palladium, Gives Up Trademark Hunt
- Back By Popular Demand—Don't Miss Our PacWest Security Road Show!
- Microsoft ASP.NET Connections
3. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
1. NEWS AND VIEWS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, [email protected])
A fast-spreading computer worm attacked the main pillars of the information superhighway Saturday, bringing almost 20 percent of the Internet to its knees. Security experts are already calling the attack the worst the Internet has suffered since a similar worm called CodeRed wreaked havoc nearly 2 years ago. This time, the worm—dubbed SQL Slammer and Sapphire—targeted servers running Microsoft SQL Server 2000 and SQL Server 7.0. In July 2002, Microsoft supplied a fix that would have prevented this problem, and just last week the company released SQL Server 2000 Service Pack 3 (SP3), which included the fix. As is usually the case with such outages, human error—in the form of inadequately updated servers—is at fault.
"Microsoft is currently investigating a virus that appears to affect versions of SQL Server 2000 that aren't up-to-date with service packs," the company noted on its Web site this weekend. "The attack has resulted in widespread Internet availability issues. At this time, we highly recommend that all of our customers running SQL Server 2000 update their servers immediately to SP3."
As of Saturday evening, the worm had compromised almost 200,000 servers. Experts I spoke with at DataPipe, a New York-based hosting company, said that the relatively benign worm replicates itself and presents a Denial of Service (DoS) attack. "It's not malicious code, so it doesn't delete or pass customer data along to other servers," said Brian Laird, senior application developer at DataPipe. "Unfortunately, Microsoft has issued several cumulative security patches for SQL Server since the original patch was issued in July. Had administrators installed any of these patches, this worm would have been prevented from spreading."
Many network administrators, including those at DataPipe, were able to block SQL Server network traffic, help prevent the worm's spread, and ease network congestion. Others weren't so lucky. The worm devastated DellHost, Interland, and other hosting companies, as well as many of UUNet's core routers. Worldwide, the worm caused damage in many locations; KT, South Korea's largest Web access provider, went offline Saturday.
Investigators at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI's) National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) are looking into the problem but haven't yet determined where the attack originated. By Saturday evening, however, Internet traffic reached usual levels as network administrators shored up their SQL Server boxes.
For Microsoft's response and to download SQL Server 2000 SP3, visit the Microsoft Web site.
On Friday, Microsoft revealed that the company has given up trying to trademark the name Palladium. Microsoft says that the secure computing initiative technologies once called Palladium will now be called the "next-generation secure computing base," which the company feels is a more accurate and mature name.
An unnamed company had apparently applied for a trademark on the term Palladium, and Microsoft didn't want to be seen as strong-arming that company. "We did not want to be in a position of rolling over them," said Mario Juarez, group product manager of Windows Trusted Platform Technologies.
Palladium has been one of Microsoft's most misunderstood technologies, and, as a result, the name had become somewhat tarnished. Critics decried Palladium as a tool Microsoft would use to add Digital Rights Management (DRM) features to Windows or limit the ways in which people could interact with their PCs, although neither allegation was true. Instead, Microsoft designed Palladium to protect users' privacy and the integrity of data stored on their PCs. Microsoft hopes that customer education during the next few years will help people understand why the next-generation secure computing base is necessary. "It used to be radical to give computing power to small businesses and regular people," Juarez told me last fall. "Then, \[anyone\] could get a computer. Wouldn't it be nice if security and certainty were like that? It would help people sleep better at night."
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