‘Code Red’s’ offspring infects HK gov’t Web servers


HONG KONG, AFP

The new strain of the Code Red virus, dubbed Code Red II, has infected a number of web servers belonging to the Hong Kong government, officials said Tuesday.

A spokesman for the Information Technology Services Department (ITSD) confirmed that a number of internal government servers had been infected with the computer worm.

He said immediate action had been taken to remove the worm and restore services.

The Code Red II is a more malicious spin-off of the comparatively innocuous Code Red computer bug launched earlier this month.

The worm makes it easier for outsiders to steal sensitive Internet information such as credit card details and company secrets as it weakens the computer’s existing security. Personal computers are said not to be at risk.

The bugs exploit vulnerabilities in servers using the Microsoft Windows NT and Windows 2000 operating systems.

“At about 6.30 p.m. yesterday (Aug. 13), a number of internal government networks experienced very slow performance with the symptom of heavy traffic,” said the spokesman.

“It was detected that some government Intranet web servers had been infected with the Code Red II worm,” he said.

The spokesman said as a contingency measure, access by government bureaus and departments to the government Intranet was temporarily suspended.

“The impact of this worm on our computer systems has been relatively mild. Government Internet services to the public have not been affected, and there has not been any loss of data,” said the spokesman.

The origin of the bug is still in dispute. On Tuesday, computer hackers in the Netherlands claimed authorship of Code Red II, Germany’s Federal Office for Information Technology Security said.

However, computer security experts in the U.S. said the Code Red bugs were authored by a collective of computer hackers in Spain known as Group 29.