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Hunt for Code Red authors turns into witch hunt

29A deny involvement

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Reports that the author of the infamous Code Red worm belong to virus writing group 29A have been comprehensively refuted by hacking groups and security experts alike.

In the run-up to the Hackers at Large (HAL) conference in Holland last weekend, the German newswire DPA carried reports that "computer security experts" had identified the "Dutch hacker group 29A" as source of Code Red by means of "information from online forums".

In fact, 29A are a largely Spanish group one of whose former members, Wintermute, wrote a DOS virus called RedCode, which has nothing to do with the Code Red worm.

Mental Driller, a member of 29A, has sent an email out denying its involvement in the development of Code Red, which contained destructive code that his "research virus programming group" would not include in their viruses, which he claimed were designed to show up system vulnerabilities.

We're not inclined to take statement from virus writers at face value but Mental Driller's statement is backed Frank Rieger, of respected white-hat hackers the Chaos Computer Club as well as antivirus experts.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at antivirus vendor Sophos, said Code Red was "unlikely" to have been written by 29A because the worm didn't fit with their "style or method of attack".

29A, Hexadecimal for 666, features in the source code of Code Red and this may have led to people jumping to conclusions about the involvement of the group in writing the worm, Cluley suggested.

Frank Rieger, of Chaos Computer Club, said that erroneous reports that 29A were Dutch had caused stress for organisers of the HAL conference who feared that the DPA article would provide an excuse for the authorities to come down hard on them.

Meanwhile almost a month after its first appearance on the Internet there are few leads as to who might be behind the creation of the Code Red worm.

As previously reported, both the Code Red Worm and a more virulent variant, Code Red II, exploit a well known flaw to infect Windows servers running IIS. Once installed the worm scans the Internet for other vulnerable servers. Code Red II also has the potential to give an attacker system level access to compromised systems. ®

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Son of Code Red is born
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