How Nimda changed computer security

Monday, 16 September 2002, 6:44 PM EST

This week marks the first anniversary of the Nimda virus attack, an event that may have driven more corporate IT security changes during the past 12 months than the September 11 terrorist attacks did.

Nimda first surfaced on September 18 last year and was among the first major viruses to target both servers and client computers. It combined features from previous threats and propagated not just via e-mail attachments, but also through shared files on servers. It also exploited Web pages containing Java scripts.

"Nimda heightened awareness, unfortunately at a very high cost," says Kim Milford, information security manager at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For example, the virus showed that "filtering at the e-mail gateway or on the desktop alone wasn't the Holy Grail that we security folks are always seeking," Milford says.

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