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IT giants whacked by Code Red

Lucent joins Microsoft in the hall of shame

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The IT industry has demonstrated its fumbling approach to dealing with major security issues once again with the outbreak of the Code Red worm.

As previously reported, our spies in Redmond told us Microsoft's internal network became infected with Code Red, almost certainly after a smart-arsed techie saw fit to ignore the software giant's security policy.

If Microsoft feels embarrassed at being caught out by Code Red after so publicly warning the rest of the world about it, then the software giant can console itself that it's not alone. Associated Press and FedEx have reportedly fallen victim to the bug and Register readers have told us that Computer Associates' network was downed by the Code Red worm last week.

Despite repeated attempts we haven't been able to get CA to either confirm or deny this rumour, which (if true) would be highly embarrassing for a firm that is such a big player in the security market.

Among the other casualties of Code Red was accident prone telecoms equipment manufacturer Lucent Technologies, which advised users to help it patch up its servers after IT staff discovered that at least 200 of its systems were infected by the worm. A memo was sent around to all Lucent staff on the issue, which we republish below.

To: ALL Windows NT or Windows 2000 users
Re: Code Red 2

On 8/4, a new version of Code Red (Code Red 2) hit the Internet, creating even greater exposure to the environments it infects - i.e., it allows unauthorized access to the infected computer.

On 8/5, Lucent was infected by the Code Red 2 virus. It has spread rapidly throughout "unpatched" systems globally and is causing some network outages. At last measurement, 200+ systems are infected, degrading network performance as they attempt to locate vulnerable systems on the Internet at a growing rate of 1.4 million requests every 2 minutes.

Lucent needs your help! Every user with any Windows NT or 2000 system (desktop, server, home, laptop, etc) must click on the following link and follow the instructions provided! This is the only way Lucent will be able to rid the worm from our environment.

Failure to comply with this request will result in the disconnection of network services to the affected systems. In addition, the system administrator/user will be identified and provided to management for disciplinary action up to and including termination.

http://www.security.lucent.com/virus/codered2

If you have any questions, please e-mail security@security.lucent.com or call the Lucent Security Hotline on 1.888.582.2267.

Lucent Security

You'll note that the email contains a threat of dismissal for any staff failing to help the firm's management contain the outbreak of the worm.

Those with long memories will remember that the first major Outlook email worm, Melissa, infected a whole tranche of IT firms, including Lucent and Microsoft. Isn't it interesting to see the same names cropping up on a list of those that got it wrong about Code Red as well? ®

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Code Red and the Cisco Side Effect
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