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Internet Virus Spreads - 2001-08-01

Experts on cyberspace say the much feared code red computer worm continues to spread through the internet. The FBI expects some 250,000 computer systems have already been infected. But so far, the electronic bug that was being considered a global threat to internet traffic seems to have had little impact.

No significant disruptions to traffic on the web have been reported since the code red bug was unleashed early Wednesday. But experts warn the threat may be far from over. In fact, the FBI says the code red worm is still spreading and has the potential to infect internet sites and cause significant disruption to traffic on the world wide web.

The Pentagon shutdown some of its websites Wednesday after the electronic bug tried to infect some Defense Department computers.

Bill Jones, of California's Keynote Systems, which helps businesses with e-commerce, expects the full impact of code red to play out over the next several days. He said, "I would expect that the worm has probably not run its course. I would think that because it is a geometric progression, as it infects machines and they infect other machines, you have the opportunity to see a slowdown over time. To have expected something immediately at 0000 UTC Wednesday I think was unrealistic but over the next 24 hours and next few days we could certainly see a slowdown."

Last month, the worm attacked more than 350,000 computer systems running on Microsoft operating systems - including the White House website - and prompted the Pentagon to shut down sites then as well. But it seems that the advice issued by the FBI and cyber industry leaders for internet users to take precautions may have paid off. So far, more than a million people have downloaded a so-called patch from Microsoft's website that prevents computers from being infected.