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CNN BREAKING NEWS

New Computer Worm Affects Machines Running Windows 2000; Gaza Pullout

Aired August 16, 2005 - 17:57   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Daniel Sieberg, our technology correspondent standing by with some more information. First of all, Daniel, if our viewers are online right now at home, and they have Microsoft, should they simply shut down their computer even if it seemingly is working OK?
DANIEL SIEBERG, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: It's probably not a bad idea. You know, at this point, it's hard to say how far this has spread to the average home user. But it wouldn't be a bad idea to just sort of take a break, maybe walk away from the computer, watch TV, and you know, just let it sort of sift -- let it sort of sit for a while and see what happens.

You couldn't do any harm from turning off the computer at this point, basically, and waiting to see what happens.

A lot of these companies, of course, don't have that option or that alternative. These computers are basically part of their business. They're integral to what they do. So for the average home user, it's OK, but for a business, of course, that may not be an option.

BLITZER: How unusual is this? We've all heard about viruses and worms. This sounds like it's a pretty significant potential development.

SIEBERG: It does sound like it's pretty significant. And I'll tell you, following the virus stories for several years, it's actually been a while since we've had a fairly major virus or worm outbreak, especially here in the United States. And nothing, at least as far as we know at this point, if this is indeed what it is, nothing of this magnitude or this scale in quite a while. It's almost like the virus writing or the hacker community has been a little too quiet up until this point, so it's hard to say if they've been building up to this -- again, we have no idea who's involved in this, or what's behind it exactly -- but it has certainly been a while since we've had something of this magnitude.

It's not unusual for a big worm or virus to shut down certain systems, to get into it, because the reason it's shutting down, Wolf, just to help people understand what happens with a lot of these computers, is it's spreading so quickly. What a worm wants to do, basically, is find more computers to infect. And to do that, it needs bandwidth, it needs to spread itself around the Internet. And that's using an enormous amount of data, an enormous amount of bandwidth, basically. People know it's sort of an Internet term, but it's the space in a pipe, if you will, of information that's trying to send itself out. That's how a worm survives and propagates itself on the Internet.

So that congests a lot of computers. It shuts them down. It congests networks, and overwhelms them. And in some cases, the worm or virus also has a part of it that tries to shut the computer down. That's written into the code. It wants to shut the computer down. It's turning it off and on. It's really confusing it. So it's hard to say at this point what we're looking at, but again, we're following it very closely.

BLITZER: All right, a potentially huge story. Daniel, stand by. Ali Velshi once again in New York. He's getting some more information. Ali, what are you learning?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Let's have Daniel around for this. I'm -- we're going to be speaking to David Perry (ph) in a second, who has put out a very widely distributed note on this, talking about Zotob. But what David is saying is that what's happening to my computer, as described to him, and he got off the phone to check, he said, this doesn't seem to be Zotob. This seems to be something else, called worm_rbot.cbx.

Now, I think we got David on the line. David, are you there? David Perry (ph) will be with us, hopefully.

Daniel, is it possible that we got two things -- David, are you there right now? David Perry (ph)? OK, we'll get David on.

Daniel, is it possible we've got two things going on or a mutation of one? Because he said, look, this worm -- the Zotob doesn't shut your computer down and put it on. That's a different characteristic.

DANIEL SIEBERG, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: It's quite possible. I mean, Zotob could have been the first one, and this next one is a variation of that. Zotob was considered to be fairly low- risk up until today.

VELSHI: That's what he said.

SIEBERG: So, potentially, that's a totally separate issue. We've been talking about Zotob. Maybe this other one was created in recent days.

Exploits the same hole (ph), perhaps it exploits a new vulnerability. So there's certainly a possibility that there are two viruses or worms out there acting concurrently. One obviously a lot more seriously than the other.

VELSHI: And he says it's growing in seriousness as it develops. He said he didn't have the expectation that this would be this serious. So it may manifest on your computer differently than it is on mine, switching on and off.

Have we got David there? David Perry, are you on the line with us?

DAVID PERRY, TREND MICRO: Yes.

VELSHI: David, I was just talking to Daniel Sieberg. Wolf Blitzer is here as well. We are talking about whether or not this could be a virus that has exploited the system. You're suggesting that what is happening to my computer here, and all of our computers here at CNN, switching on and switching off, does not look like Zotob to you?

PERRY: No. It looks like we actually have reports of a new worm called worm_rbot.cqb.

VELSHI: In addition to Zotob?

PERRY: In addition to Zotob. Now, it could be a derivative or a further development than the Zotob series, but it is more likely, from what we're seeing here at Trend Micro, that this is an entirely new worm.

VELSHI: Is it more serious? Could it be more serious?

PERRY: Well, it does have a side-effect of making the systems reboot and shut down over and over again. So that's obviously more serious if you're trying to run a business on those computers. And apparently, it appears to be more widespread. The Zotob was limited in which operating systems it could effectively reach.

SIEBERG: David, it's Daniel Sieberg in Atlanta. What should the average person at home be doing at this point? I mean, how serious are we talking about is this new variation or this new worm?

PERRY: What's important is that you get the various patches that prevent these known vulnerabilities from being exploited. If you're dealing with Microsoft Windows XP, make sure that you have Service Pack 2. And as always, make sure that your anti-virus is updated.

If you're not running a current updated anti-virus, you can come to an online service. We have one called House Call at www.housecall.trendmicro.com. And we will not only scan you to see if you have this virus, but scan and find the vulnerabilities and patch those as well.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Gentlemen, stand by for a moment.

We're back here in THE SITUATION ROOM. I want to alert our viewers in the United States, North America, around the world. We're being simulcast right now on CNN International as well. We want to welcome our viewers from around the world.

This is a problem, a serious problem, potentially not only affecting computer users here in the United States or in North America, but computer users around the world. Important information you need to know that we're trying to provide. A worm, some sort of worm, has infected computer systems using Microsoft here in the United States. We know of reports in Germany as well.

David Perry, where else are you getting indications this worm is affecting computers?

PERRY: We've been seeing infections both in Asia and in the United States. But I cannot be more specific than that, because it's important that we protect the anonymity of our -- of our users.

BLITZER: All right. David, stand by.

CNN's Casey Wian is in Los Angeles. He's standing by. He's collecting information on this as well.

Casey, what are you learning?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we've got some problems with the computer systems here in the Los Angeles bureau of CNN. But elsewhere throughout the city, so far, we don't see a lot of problems.

We've spoken to the FBI in Los Angeles. They say they are not having a problem with this virus. Also, the Los Angeles Police Department says it is not having a problem. It is not -- it has not activated its emergency command center.

We've got a call in to the governor's office. We're waiting to hear back from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's folks to see if they can tell us anything that's happening statewide.

We've also placed calls to several local television stations and CNN affiliates. They say they are not experiencing problems either.

So it's not very widespread, at least primarily out here on the West Coast -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Casey, stand by.

David Perry, if you're still there, this...

PERRY: I would agree with that, it's not very widespread. It is brand new, though, and we are seeing the same effects that you're seeing wherever we are seeing it in our customers.

BLITZER: When was the first moment, David, that we suspected there was a worm out there? Because I'm trying to get an assessment of how quickly this worm is spreading, this virus may be affecting all sorts of systems out there?

PERRY: When you called, I was just getting my first call notifying me that we were seeing this. So you are right in the very first breaking story of this happening.

BLITZER: But Microsoft two days ago put out a warning about Zotob.a.

PERRY: Zotob.a came out Sunday afternoon.

BLITZER: Right.

PERRY: Zotob.b later on that evening. And Zotob.c this morning. And we've been seeing the Zotob phenomenon happening for the last couple of days. They are...

BLITZER: But you -- you believe, you fear this could be something else besides Zotob?

PERRY: Absolutely. We did not see this effect that you're describing, this rebooting and shutting down with Zotob. We are seeing it with a brand-new worm called worm_rbot.cbq.

BLITZER: Walk us through, David, the process. Assuming this new virus, this new worm is affecting systems out there, how does Microsoft, how do all of us deal with this problem?

PERRY; Well, the first thing I would do would be go to whatever anti-virus company you're using, go to their Web page, and make sure that you are updated. Make sure that you have the latest information and the latest update on your system.

BLITZER: Well, I don't know about you, but on my system, certainly my system at home, that's supposed to be done automatically.

PERRY: Absolutely. Everyone is set for automated update. But, frequently, when you set it for automatic, what you're really asking is that it update once a day at 6:30 p.m., or something of that nature. It's not an instant-to-instant item.

But when you get into -- this is not a very large-scale outbreak. But it is an outbreak. And when you get into an outbreak situation, the time to update is right now.

BLITZER: All right.

Let me bring Ali Velshi back.

Ali, I want you to weigh in on this, because I know you have a question for David as well.

VELSHI: Yes, Wolf. David was just talking about the fact that you should go to your anti-virus protection. Hopefully everybody's got that.

David, do you know whether McAfee and Semantic and the others have already got a fix on their Web sites for this? If you went there, could you get it?

PERRY: Well, no. Assuming that this is being caused by the same vulnerability as Zotob, which is likely, whenever a successful virus or a worm is created using a particular vulnerability, we usually see a flurry of activity using that same vulnerability. So that might be the case here. If that is the case, then what you need to do is go get the Microsoft patch. And everyone should be able to direct you to that.

As far as individual anti-virus software, you know, virus that we're in the hour of its discovery, it's a race to get this done. I know that our labs all over the world are currently working just to produce a solution for this spot bot right as we speak.

VELSHI: How long will it take? How long does it typically take to get that solution?

PERRY: Generally speaking, we have what we call a Band-Aid that comes out in the first hour, and then we release updates to that consecutively over the hours that follow that. So within a couple of hours, we should have a final solution for this one.

BLITZER: David, who has a motive to cause this kind of mischief, this kind of serious problem out there?

PERRY: That's the best question you could ask me. It's funny, because we see a wide range of motives.

Zotob, for example, contained a boastful statement that told us that it was done much for the same reason that graffiti is done. This one, well, we'll still have to see in the analysis, because in the modern virus world, the range, all the way from political inspiration all the way out to outright criminal activity.

It's a worldwide world out there on the World Wide Web, and it's a model of everything that we have in life, from commerce, to fraud and theft and forgery.

BLITZER: Correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to remember the last time we had one of these major worms out there, viruses, this -- this whole problem, it was some young kid in Germany. Am I right or wrong on that?

PERRY: Absolutely. There's a young man going to jail as we speak in Germany. But you realize that I was just attending a hackers' convention in Las Vegas. It happens every summer. And there are a lot of young people who are out there still thinking it would be cool to produce a computer virus.

BLITZER: They just think it's cool. And -- but do they get the punishment they really deserve? Because this causes so much -- so much inconvenience and financial loss. We're talking potentially millions and millions of dollars, tens of millions, hundreds of millions, potentially around the world.

PERRY: There's a company called Computer Economics that sets it in billions of dollars each year. And I don't think that they understand.

I don't think that the computer virus writers, I don't think the hackers, I don't think the computer criminals understand the depth to which this causes pain in the modern world. And if there's any listening, please stop. We're not impressed.

BLITZER: All right. So let's just recap right now.

David, what we know is that a second -- a second worm, presumably, is affecting a lot of computer systems out there in the United States, North America, around the world, in Europe, and Asia, and that individuals who are watching us right now on CNN and CNN International, it would be a good idea for them to take a step back and shut down their computers, their home computers.

PERRY: I'm not going -- I'm not going to advise anybody to shut down their network right yet. I'm going to say that it's a very good time to start thinking about your critical infrastructure, protecting those servers that need protecting, and making sure that the systems that are affected are patched and up to date with the latest protection you can give them.

BLITZER: Well, let's say you're at home and you're watching us, and on your hard drive on your computer at home you have all your family pictures, you've got a novel you've been working on for three years. Aren't you -- you probably are going to be concerned you're going to lose a lot of that.

PERRY: Well, it's too late to start thinking about backups now. But when this crisis is over, take a breath and back up all of your most important data.

BLITZER: And put it on a disk.

PERRY: Put it out on a CD or something, someplace where you can keep a copy of it for sure.

BLITZER: Because it might be too late.

This is a serious problem we're watching unfold right now. Certainly affecting our computers at CNN in New York, as well as in Atlanta. Right now in Washington, fortunately, we're not getting that much -- that affected.

Ali, what's going on where you are in New York?

VELSHI: All right. We have word from Microsoft now. They are saying they've heard reports of this. They're describing it as low- impact and have a patch on their site on microsoft.com that you can download.

As far as Microsoft is concerned, this is only affecting computers running Windows 2000. It's unclear to me, Wolf, what percentage of the computing population is running Windows 2000. Obviously, there's a newer version of Windows right now.

We've also checked -- reports are right now the United Nations is not affected. Most financial houses on Wall Street, or at least some that we've spoken to, are not affected. And most things that you see, certainly Times Square, the ticker tape, we've got reports, is working fine. Microsoft says on their Web site you can download a patch for this. For the moment, they said low-impact. I don't know what that means. We weren't able to get them to put a number on low-impact or tell us how many people are affected by this.

BLITZER: So does that mean, Ali -- and I'll ask David this question, too -- if you're running XP, for example, as opposed to Microsoft 2000, you need not worry?

VELSHI: David, what do you think?

PERRY: I think that you -- right now, to the best of our knowledge, the impact of MS-5.039, which is what we're talking about, is limited to Windows 2000 and NT, and XP that has not been patched with Service Pack 2.

Sorry that's so complicated, but that's the way it is. However...

VELSHI: The other way to say this, David, is that Windows XP users who got Windows XP right when it came out and for whatever reason have not upgraded it might be vulnerable?

PERRY: Right. If you haven't done that, you can upgrade it right now. You can go to Microsoft and get that upgrade right this very second. It's free, it's available, and it's been used by millions of people.

Now, I can tell you that latest figures show about 73 percent of all windows users are using Windows XP. So that leaves only 25 or 27 percent for all other versions of Windows: 95, 97, 98, 99.

VELSHI: How many people is that? When you say 25 percent of all...

BLITZER: You're talking, David -- David, you're talking about in the United States. You're not talking about...

PERRY: No, that's worldwide.

BLITZER: Worldwide. All right.

PERRY: That's how many people were patched to what level who came to Microsoft's own server. So that would be a billion people, all in all, we're talking about.

BLITZER: A billion people potentially, but you're saying 20 percent of them are using Windows 2000?

PERRY: No, less than that. I would say 5 to 8 percent. Somewhere in there.

BLITZER: Well, that's still millions and millions of people...

PERRY: Absolutely.

BLITZER: ... who could be affected by this worm.

All right, guys. Stand by. We're going to continue our special coverage.

This is breaking news. A worm has infected computers in the United States, Europe, Asia, around the world. We're covering this story for you. We'll take a quick break. Much more of our breaking news right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. We're following some breaking news, important breaking news here in the United States, around the world. We want to welcome our CNN International viewers.

"LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" is not airing, in part because of some of those computer problems that are affecting our New York bureau. Lou Dobbs will be joining us, though, later.

A computer worm has shut down computer systems running Microsoft Windows 2000 software across the United States. And not all of them, but much of them in the United States, Europe, Asia and elsewhere.

They're hitting our computers at CNN, other news organizations as well. As well as other companies. The Caterpillar Company, for example, based in Peoria, Illinois, also reported it's been affected by this worm.

About 5:00 p.m., computers began crashing around the country, around the world. David Perry -- we've been speaking with him of Trend Micro -- said the attack seems to be triggered by a new worm. He says the symptoms of the computers -- the symptoms include computers repeatedly shutting themselves down and rebooting. That's consistent with this virus.

CNN's Ali Velshi is in New York. He's affected by the virus. He can't log on to a computer.

Ali, you're getting more information even as we speak.

VELSHI: I am. As we speak we're getting more information.

My computer, I'm just showing you, is one of those. We don't know how many computers are affected, but as David Perry just told us, of the billion people who use Microsoft, up to 20 percent of them might be using Microsoft Windows 2000, which is the system that is on this computer.

Now, we do know that CNN computers are affected here and in Atlanta. Casey Wian was saying some affected in Los Angeles.

We have reports from all over the country of, you know, certain companies getting affected by this. We also know that here in New York, ABC and "The New York Times" have been affected. Other places haven't been affected. And security and emergency services haven't been affected either. We were speaking to somebody from -- this is a real agency -- the Office of Cyber Security here in New York. It's a New York State Agency. A gentleman named Will Pilgrim (ph) who runs that operation was saying that he put out an alert about a virus as early as August 9. And through the 14th, they were seeing manifestations of this.

This, as David Perry told you, not brand new to the cyber world. They knew something was coming. But a lot of people thought this was Zotob. We're not clear whether Zotob, which is the worm that the -- the counter-cyber terrorists have named it, is the same thing as this worm, which David Perry describes as worm_rbot.dsx -- or dcx, I think he was saying. And that's the issue that we're trying to figure out.

What is this? The patch is on microsoft.com right now. Microsoft describes this as low impact. They wouldn't tell us what low impact means.

And a point to bring up that one of our producers pointed out to us, Wolf, is that a lot of people wouldn't have discovered this during the working day. We have reports as early as 1:30 Eastern this was starting to affect people. A company I spoke to said they were informed of it that early.

But a lot of companies wouldn't have figured this out, and this could take hold during the night. So there will be a lot of anti- cyber terrorists working through the night to figure out how to fix your computers. But for the moment, it seems to be spreading fast.

BLITZER: And one piece of advice that we've been giving our viewers, Ali, is that if you work on Windows 2000, Microsoft Windows 2000, and you have a problem, and you can't log on, how do you go to microsoft.com and get that patch to patch up the problem?

VELSHI: Right. And you can see that's happening here.

I don't know if David's still on the line with us, but I asked David that question. And he said the patches will be available either through a clean computer, or wherever else you get it on a disk or a CD. And the ability to start your computer from a bootable CD should be available to most people.

So from what I understand so far, with my limited knowledge of this sort of technology, there's a way to fix it, no matter what. The issue is how much danger it does until we've figured it out.

BLITZER: And so far, you still can't log in. You can't get online in New York.

VELSHI: No, my computer is still starting and stopping.

BLITZER: Your computer keeps going back and forward and does nothing, basically?

VELSHI: Yes, exactly.

BLITZER: All right. Ali... VELSHI: We're doing it -- we're gathering news the old-fashioned way here -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Stand by, Ali.

We're going to continue our special coverage. Much more coming up.

We're watching this story unfold even as we speak. A worm affecting Microsoft 2000, potentially other systems out there as well, not only in the United States, but in other parts of the world. Much more coverage right after this short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: I want to welcome back our viewers in the United States and the world. We're watching this developing story, a breaking-news story. A computer virus affecting Microsoft 2000 systems here in the United States, elsewhere around the world.

Much more coming up on this. But we also want to update you on some very important other news happening around the world, including the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

The deadline for Jewish settlers has now come and gone. Many of those settlers remaining inside their settlements.

Let's get the latest. CNN's Guy Raz reports from one of those settlements.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUY RAZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): As the deadline approached, the soldiers moved in. No weapons, no force, just the power of persuasion. But almost no one here was prepared to welcome them.

(on camera): This is a last-ditch effort to get people in this community to leave voluntarily. Soldiers are now going house to house, door to door, hoping that people will decide to leave on their own.

(voice over): The army says it's not fighting a war, but carrying out orders with a heavy heart. Their entrance into the settlement, paved by police at first light, tearing down the locked gate leading into Neveh Dekalim.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're going to do the mission. We can't fail. We must do the mission.

RAZ: The atmosphere in this settlement, though, increasingly tense. Some praying for redemption from an evacuation they call a catastrophe. Others lighting fires to block the roads.

The first to be removed, likely these young demonstrators. A few of them residents of these settlements. Many are waging psychological war on police.

"Here in this country, your country," this woman shouts at police, "are you proud? Will you be proud in the future?"

Elsewhere in this settlement, things are strangely normal. Kids swimming, people wandering the streets, like any other day.

Resident Yael Fogel just watches life pass by from her porch.

YAEL FOGEL, GAZA RESIDENT: We are not packing. We are not leaving. We believe in staying here.

RAZ: But the Israeli government has other plans.

Guy Raz, in Neveh Dekalim settlement, Gaza.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And more now on our developing story. A computer virus shutting down many Microsoft 2000 systems around the United States, indeed around the world.

Let's bring back CNN's Ali Velshi to update our viewers who may just be tuning in.

What's going on, Ali?

VELSHI: Wolf, it seems, according to an expert we were just talking to, that, you know, we kind of stumbled upon this. We were in the middle of a show. And while you were doing something, I was getting ready for the next thing I was doing. This was happening to my computer.

This little notice would come on to tell me that my computer's going to shut down. I thought, well, I don't know why that's happening, and I realized it was happening all around the news room.

We then found out it was affecting computers, CNN computers, certainly, in Atlanta, in other bureaus. We started to make phone calls and found out other organizations in New York were affected by it, and then subsequently learning outside of New York as well.

We are -- what we are not clear on yet is -- there was a worm called Zotob that was spreading, starting last week. We've had reports of that affecting companies across the country. That seemed to be kind of under control.

Now this, whatever is doing this to my computer, is being described by David Perry, who's the expert we were talking to, as worm_rbot.dsx. It's a different beast altogether, and we're not sure whether this is two worms, one worm exploiting the same vulnerability, or what the situation is.

Microsoft says it has a patch for this worm on its Web site. It says it is not -- it's a low-impact worm. And for the moment, we are trying to find out how widespread this is. No reports so far of any critical operations being affected by it. However, a lot of companies that are vulnerable or have been hit won't know until they turn their computers on again at the start of a new business day.

So far, we've got reports all across the United States. We've got reports from Europe, from Germany, and when Asia opens up for business in a few hours, we may see this spreading quite rapidly.

That's what we know so far, Wolf. But we're on the story to find out who else is affected by this.

BLITZER: All right. Stand by, Ali.

I want to bring back our technology correspondent, Daniel Sieberg. He's watching all of this.

What information, Daniel, are you picking up?

SIEBERG: Well, Wolf, it's tough to tell how many companies or major corporations are being affected at this point. We do have a statement from Caterpillar, the construction company. They say, "Over the weekend portions of Caterpillar's enterprise-wide (ph) computer networks were affected by a small number of viruses. A number of global companies were impacted by these. As a result, some Caterpillar facilities and computer servers were affected, and there was a short-term disruption to company operations today."

That was yesterday, I believe, when this statement actually came out. "The issue is under control. And a solution is being implemented. The impact of this issue on Caterpillar production and office facilities is still being assessed."

So obviously this is happening very quickly. A lot of companies may not even be aware that this is happening to their network right now.

On the East Coast, it's nearly 6:30. Not sure if some of these companies have -- some of them, smaller ones, anyway, may have gone home for the day and are unaware of the scale of the particular problem at this point.

These types of things move very, very fast. And this type of worm, or virus -- and again, it's tough to know which one it is at this point. People often interchange those two terms. But basically, it's hard to say how this is spreading exactly.

We believe that it's a worm. And in that case, it propagates itself. It's looking for other computers that have the same security hole so that it can sneak in there and infect those computers as well. And then once it's done that, it sends itself out to any other computers that it can find that has the same hole, the same vulnerability in them.

If it's just Windows 2000, that's still a large number of computers. As we've been discussing, home users and business users alike. So tough to put a fine point on this. But we're obviously following it.

BLITZER: Let's go through some of the basic lingo in this, because a lot of our viewers who are watching may not be familiar with it. What's the difference between a computer worm and a computer virus?

SIEBERG: Well, Wolf, that's been an ongoing question of mine with a lot of security analysts over the years. And it's tough to pin that down.

In many cases -- and this sort of a bit of a generalization -- but in many cases, a virus involves some interaction with the user. So you get an e-mail, there's an attachment, you open the attachment and that sends the virus on its way. So you have some sort of interaction.

The user has to do something with a computer virus. A computer worm, on the other hand -- and again, I'm probably going to get scolded by some security analysts -- but a computer worm in basic general terms is sending itself out.

It's looking for networks or systems that are running a particular operating system. And when it finds it, it's able to propagate or continue to send itself out without you doing anything.

So, in some cases, you may not even be aware that it's on your system, which is why a lot of people at CNN and elsewhere just suddenly saw their computers shutting down and booting up again, which I'm watching two computers here do the same thing. That's because you didn't have to do anything to create this, or to start it, or to keep sending it out.

That's sort of a basic difference between the two.

BLITZER: And in this particular case, the suspicion is, this is a worm as opposed to a virus?

SIEBERG: That's what we're hearing, that it is a worm, and that, therefore, it's able to send itself out. That, again, it's looking for these unpatched systems so that it can keep propagating.

You know, I have to point out, a lot of times -- and I was at the hacking convention in Las Vegas, just a little while ago, a little over a week ago, and a lot of the guys there are not into this type of thing. But some of them are. And what happens in some cases is, it's a kid, or somebody who gets ahold of some code. They modify the original version.

We've been hearing that there have been different versions of a particular worm that was circulating in recent days. They change the code, make it a little more successful, and in some cases it gets out of control. It's like letting the cat out of the bag and suddenly this thing is on the internet, it is spreading everywhere very quickly, and it's almost accidental.

And not to sort of relieve any blame or anything from someone who may be responsible for this, but it's hard to say whether this was targeted, if somebody was looking to spread it this far and this quickly, or if it simply got out of control. So very tough to say at this point.

BLITZER: All right. Daniel Sieberg, doing some good work for us. Thank you, Daniel, very much. I'm going to wrap up our coverage here in Washington. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. "LOU DOBbs TONIGHT" standing by. Lou is picking up our coverage in New York -- Lou.

END

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