Turning the worm

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 August, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 August, 2001, 12:00am

Yesterday's 'red alert' over the resurgence of a computer worm supposedly poised to create havoc on the Internet was, as others have been, something of a non-event.

Although Code Red managed to invade computers with terrifying speed earlier this month, flooding the White House system with messages, real damage was averted by switching the Web site to a new Internet address. Few seem to have been affected this time, in spite of doomsday predictions by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that Code Red's second hit would be so pervasive it could jam the entire Internet.

However, the direct hits and the false alarms are not necessarily bad news in every quarter. It all helps to keep the computer industry ticking over very nicely, producing and upgrading anti-virus software. In the United States, an organisation has been set up by computer companies under the auspices of the FBI to share security information in an effort to combat 'cyber-attacks'.

Microsoft is, naturally, to the fore in these measures, although many critics of the company claim it cannot entirely dodge responsibility for the existence of hackers in the first place. There are some computer experts who feel that Microsoft could be doing more to protect users from virus attacks when they design new features for their systems. Then users would spend less time and money upgrading anti-viral security.

The irony of the virus scourge is that the anarchic techies bent over their keyboards intent on devising new ways to bring down the software giants are having precisely the opposite effect. Every time they create a new virus, they stimulate demand for updated anti-viral products, and boost company profits. This message seems to have escaped them, in which case, green might be a better colour choice for their next creation.