27 January 2004

Internet terrorism fears as virus hits

The Australian: Internet terrorism fears as virus hits:

By Chris Jenkins

COMPUTER users worldwide have been caught in the crossfire of an internet attack that experts say could be the precursor to 'cyber terrorism'.

Just days after the relatively harmless 'Bagle' virus, a new internet worm, known as MyDoom, Norvarg or Shimgapi, began appearing yesterday.

The worm has been rated as a high-level security threat.

While Bagle did little more than spread itself, MyDoom packs more malice, being programmed to mount a denial of service attack on US software company SCO's website.

Such an attack aims to bring down a company's systems by flooding them with traffic. While it continues to spread via email, the worm is not scheduled to begin its attack on SCO until February 1.

SCO has made itself unpopular in some computer circles, particularly among users of Linux, an operating system developed on a community basis and shared for free. SCO claimed it had copyright over some parts of Linux, and a legal row developed when the company began demanding licence fees.

A rival to Microsoft's Windows, Linux has gathered a loyal group of supporters.

It is believed the attack on SCO could be the work of an angry Linux supporter.

Australian SCO spokesman Keiran O'Shaugnessy said the company was 'keeping an eye' on the threat, but would not speculate on the motivation for the attack or its source. Large denial of service attacks have previously been attempted against the White House and Microsoft.

MyDoom's strike seemed to be the result of a particular issue, managing director of internet security company Symantec John Donovan said. The attack was perhaps a precursor to more serious politically motivated hacking. Research indicated politically motivated attacks would likely increase, he said.

In a worst-case scenario, an internet attack could be combined with a physical attack, such as a bombing, knocking out communications during an emergency."

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