A new attack from the latest "worm" software to hit the Internet has so far proven harmless, in part thanks to a mistake by the hackers who devised the program.
The so-called Blaster worm affects most current versions of the Microsoft Windows operating system unless they have been upgraded recently. It was scheduled to trigger a worldwide assault, a simultaneous "denial of service attack" by tens of thousands of computers Saturday, on a Microsoft Website.
Ironically, Microsoft uses that Website to help its customers seal off their systems against just such unauthorized use by attackers.
The worm's inventor programmed it to attack the wrong Internet address, however. Microsoft, the American company that dominates the world software industry, normally redirects such mistaken searches to the correct location on the World Wide Web, but the company disabled those links Friday in order to block the worm software from causing any further damage.
The Blaster worm has infected well over one million computers worldwide over the past week.
A computer worm is a virus-like program that exploits security gaps in computer operating software to propagate itself rapidly through unsuspecting Internet users' computers.