Hackers' computer bug surfaces in HK

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 June, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 June, 2003, 12:00am

A bug that can give hackers control of a computer hit Hong Kong yesterday after surfacing in America.

The 'Bugbear', which can sneak in to computers and networks via e-mails, can transmit itself to every address on the recipient's mailing list.

The government-funded Hong Kong Computer Emergency Response Team received three reports about bug attacks yesterday, and the University of Hong Kong said it had several incidents of Bugbear attacks.

Neither institution would give details about the victims or their organisations. But the response team's senior consultant, Leung Siu-cheong, said that because of early detection, it had failed to inflict serious damage in Hong Kong.

The bug was first reported in the United States on Wednesday, and MessageLabs, an international computer security firm with an office in Hong Kong, immediately issued a warning. The company has since intercepted 89,000 copies of the bug through its networks.

'Although the Bugbear virus has been very active in Europe and the US, we are not expecting very serious incidences in Hong Kong as anti-virus companies had already started updating their virus definitions when the HKCERT found out about the virus,' Mr Leung said. The government said none of its systems were affected.

The bug, W32.Bugbear.B@mm, targets systems such as Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Me.

It opens up a channel on the computer, giving access to hackers who can then change or delete existing data and even monitor the user's activities as long as they stay online. They can gain confidential passwords and credit card details.