A hacker turf war is raging

The network worms that shut down computers running Microsoft's Windows 2000 operating system on Tuesday may be linked to competition between rival hackers, security experts said, according to a CNET article.

Computers across the United States have been hit, including those at cable news station CNN, television network ABC and The New York Times. Antivirus company Trend Micro blames the havoc on various worms, including the Zotob worm that hit the Internet over the weekend and new variants of the Rbot worm.

Some security researchers claim the outbreak is tied to a "war" between rival virus writers. "We seem to have a botwar on our hands," Mikko Hypponen from software security firm F-Secure said on Wednesday.

"There appear to be three different virus-writing gangs turning out new worms at an alarming rate, as if they were competing to build the biggest network of infected machines," he said.

All of the worms exploit a security hole in the plug-and-play feature in the Windows 2000 operating system. Symptoms of infection include the repeated shutdown and rebooting of a computer.

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Worms caused PCs at 100+ U.S. companies to restart repeatedly
Online August 17, 2005

Several new computer worms were being blamed for causing computer system outages at some media outlets and companies in the United States on Tuesday, Reuters reports.

The worms, including two called "IRCBOT.WORM" and "RBOT.CBQ," exploit a recently discovered flaw in Microsoft's Windows 2000 operating system and were causing personal computers at more than 100 U.S. companies to restart repeatedly and potentially exposed them to attackers who could take control of a system.

"This is the most significant threat we've seen in at least 12 months," said Vincent Gullotto, vice president of the anti-virus emergency response team at McAfee Inc.

Microsoft, which warned users last week of three newly found "critical" security flaws in its software, urged users to update the software on their personal computers to prevent them from being infected.

Microsoft said users with properly updated software, anti-virus software and a firewall can avoid being infected.

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Microsoft to fight crime with spammer's money
Online August 11, 2005

Software giant Microsoft will invest the $7 million it is expecting from a damages settlement with "spam king" Scott Richter into fighting Internet crimes, paying its legal bills and "rewarding" the state of New York, ZDNet reports.

After covering its legal expenses, Microsoft will dedicate $5 million to helping law enforcement agencies address computer-related crimes, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith said.

"In appreciation of the role of the New York attorney general, another $1 million of this settlement money will be directed to New York state...to expand computer-related skills training for youths and adults," he said.

Describing Richter--who is said to have sent or assisted others in sending more than 38 billion e-mails a year--as one of the world's most "prolific" spammers, Smith called the settlement a milestone and expressed hope the decision would send a clear warning to those dabbling in spamming.

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Netscape catches up to Firefox patches
Online August 10, 2005

Netscape has released a new version of Netscape 8 to bring the Web browser as up to date on security patches as the underlying Firefox software, CNET reports.

Netscape, launched Monday, includes all the fixes that have been made in the Firefox browser. That means it has all patches through Firefox version 1.0.6, which was issued last month.

The Netscape 8 revamp is the fourth since the software was launched in May. Users will get an update warning in their browser.

Netscape 8 includes features to protect people against online scams such as phishing and spyware. While it uses Firefox's Gecko rendering engine by default, it also supports Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser engine, which is part of Windows. Netscape lets people toggle between the browser engines, a feature that many people see as useful, since sites are often designed specifically to work with IE.

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