Hacker attack damages 2,000 computers at Stanford

Friday, 8 August 2003, 8:01 AM EST

Officials at Stanford University are scrambling to repair the damage from a hacking attack that has infected thousands of campus computers.

Cedric Bennett, Stanford's director of information security services, said unknown hackers had exploited a newly discovered vulnerability in Microsoft's Windows operating system. About 10 percent of Stanford's 20,000 desktop computers that run Windows were affected.

"I consider this a pretty serious attack," Bennett said.

The attack placed a mysterious bit of computer coding on each of the infected machines, which Bennett said the hackers could later activate. The machines were not otherwise disabled. "We really have no idea what their purpose is," he said. "I would call this a stealth attack."

Stanford administrators first spotted the attack Thursday when Internet traffic on the university network spiked. A second wave of attacks followed earlier this week.

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