Remembering Slammer on its anniversary

Friday, 23 January 2004, 2:17 PM EST

Cash machines froze. Airlines and hospitals dusted off paper forms to schedule reservations and track patients. This was the scene on January 25, 2003, shortly after the Slammer worm appeared and quickly began spreading around the world, flooding computer networks with worm-generated traffic and knocking vital database servers offline.

One year after it appeared, the Slammer worm, also known as Sapphire, is being remembered this week as a watershed moment in the life of the Internet: the sudden appearance of a new type of malicious code that could spread worldwide in minutes.

Slammer used a known buffer overflow in Microsoft's SQL Server database to spread worldwide in approximately ten minutes, doubling the number of computers it infected every 8.5 seconds. According to a study of the worm's outbreak published by the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA), another system was infected every 37 minutes.

Months later, the impact is still being felt. Corporations and vendors have changed policies, increased vigilance to Internet threats, and worked to foster better security from Microsoft.

[ Read more ]

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