Sasser cripples Computex
System collapse, anarchy, despair
Computex How's this for irony? The Taiwanese authorities boasted on Saturday that they'd caught a notorious hacker, author of the Peep Trojan program and the Randex series of email worms. In Germany, around the same time, they were celebrating the capture of the author of Sasser and the author of Netsky. So it was painfully ironic that it was the Sasser virus which disabled the Computex show network here in Taipei.
The result was that red-faced back-room staff had to start installing last September's official XP patch to protect the system against this worm, while top officials, anxious to avoid "loss of face" made themselves scarce.
Visitors to the "most prestigious" of Taiwan's computer shows had to endure the irony. The owner of the show indulged himself at the opening ceremony by boasting of the wonderful Internet access facilities for delegates. Meanwhile, nobody could get on.
In chaotic scenes, registration systems collapsed, and queues built up in the 90-degree F heat and sunshine of this tropical city as people from all over the world ranted at frantic exhibition staff. Pre-registered or not, all visitors to the show had to fill in a new form, present two business cards, and wait while the data was typed in.
Tech staff were meanwhile frantically installing Microsoft's patch KB824146 which attempts to protect the systems from Sasser. With literally hundreds of Shuttle PCs around the various halls, all connected to the same server and all equally likely to be infected, however, the work was still going on at lunch time.
Meanwhile, the servers were completely overloaded, scanning the systems and attempting to find and delete the worm. It should, of course, have been impossible for the worm to get access to the network; the patch was dated September 2003, and should definitely have been part of the standard XP install.