The truth about Code Red

The truth about Code Red

By Corey Frang

The truth about Code Red

The Internet is under attack. The enemy is a computer virus named Code Red. This particular type of virus is called a worm. It spreads on its own across the Internet.

I wanted to try to debunk some of the myths about this virus.Code Red only affects Microsoft products, in particular Windows 2000, and Windows NT. People who have other versions of Windows need not worry about it. It exploits a vulnerability in Internet Information Server (IIS). IIS is a web server designed by Microsoft, used to host your own web page on your machine. Microsoft released a patch to fix this vulnerability well before the worm began to spread.

So why is it causing so many problems? Most people who have bought Windows 2000 may have IIS installed, and running without their knowledge. Also, most people don’t keep current with the service packs (also called patches) for their software.The most upsetting thing about this worm is how the media has been handling it. It has been said that Code Red is going to bring the Internet to a grinding halt. This is possible, but very unlikely. The media has made Microsoft out to be a hero.

“Install the patch from Microsoft, it will protect you!” What they have neglected to mention is that Code Red uses a flaw in the original design of the Microsoft IIS software to spread itself. This type of flaw in design is quite typical of Microsoft software. Much of the reporting on computer viruses has been this way. We saw it almost a year ago with the I Love You virus. The virus played upon the naivety of the end user, and a security hole in Microsoft Outlook. It was dubbed an “e-mail virus,” not a “Microsoft Outlook virus.”

This attack from Code Red is not over. A new version of this virus started to spread around July 30th. It spreads much quicker than the earlier versions of Code Red. It is a fairly serious threat, as the amount of traffic that Code Red generates while searching for vulnerable hosts will eventually slow down the traffic on the Internet. This new version also installs what is called a back door onto your system. This could possibly allow anyone access to your documents, configurations settings and even the ability to remotely run programs on your computer.

I urge anyone who is running Windows 2000 or Windows NT to download and install the patch from Microsoft, then do a little research on the Code Red virus for themselves. Code Red is not the only big name in viruses right now.

There is another Microsoft Outlook virus called SirCam, which is more dangerous. This virus comes in an e-mail, much like I Love You. It will most likely come from someone you know, and it has a message somewhat like “I send you this file to get your opinion.” The file looks like a standard attachment, usually a Microsoft Word document, or a picture. But when you run it, it will install the virus on your machine and then open the document. While you look at the document, it goes through your Microsoft Outlook address book, and all of the web pages you have viewed recently looking for e-mail addresses. It will send a new copy of this virus to anyone it finds, attaching a random file out of your My Documents folder.

It could send someone your shopping list, or your Excel Spreadsheet of your financial data. This virus uses the naivety of most computer users to spread itself. Even though most people have been warned, “Don’t open an e-mail attachment unless you know who its from, and were expecting to be sent a file,” they still open it.

SirCam is another serious threat to the Internet community that has not gotten much press; Code Red has drowned it out. Although Code Red is a serious threat, it doesn’t affect the common computer user running Windows 95/98/ME. It only affects Microsoft IIS (web server) on Windows NT and 2000. So if you don’t fit into that category, don’t worry about Code Red; instead, worry about SirCam.

Corey Frang is a network administrator for a locally-owned company called Noir. If you have any questions about this article, or any other computer-related questions, please send an e-mail to:

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