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Customs Crashed by Zotob

It's been all Zotob, all week. I'm thinking Zotob would make a great name for an anti-depressant. Maybe if it were a psychoactive happy drug, we'd all feel much better about the fact that this Internet worm disabled the computer networks used by the Department of Homeland Security to screen airline passengers entering the United States.

According to the latest AP story on this, the "computer problem originated in database systems located in Virginia and lasted from around 6 p.m. until about 11:30 p.m., said Zachary Mann, spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in southern Florida."

Okay, so neither AP nor Mann mentioned Zotob by name, but it doesn't take a cyber-geek to figure out that the DHS system was felled by the same critter that affected plenty of other large organizations around the country this week. I called Customs to ask about this, but haven't heard back yet.

Am I the only one who's nervous that the same system that is supposed to help stop terrorists from entering the country can be brought to its knees by a worm apparently created by a bunch of script-kiddies? I think I need another Zotob.

By Brian Krebs  |  August 19, 2005; 1:43 PM ET
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"I think I need another Zotob."

What you need is a Mac.

Posted by: Roger Wehage | August 19, 2005 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Following the link in one of your articles, I tried to download and install the free Netscape browser. When I tried to open the .exe file to install I got the popup message that the program was "not a valid WIN32 application" -- is this a standard Microsoft resistance to people installing netscape?

Posted by: L. Werden | August 21, 2005 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Why question is 'Why are the US Custom's computers connected to the Internet?'. They should only be connected to a presumably-private DHS network.

Posted by: David | August 22, 2005 10:45 AM | Report abuse

They wouldn't necessarily have to be connected to get infected. Someone could have connected an infected laptop to the internal network, for example.

Posted by: Matt | August 22, 2005 10:55 AM | Report abuse

When it was being organized DHS undertook a procurement cycle to select its core software products. To the utter amazement of everyone in the software security field DHS choose to use Microsoft products. Any security related decisions DHS has made since then have to be suspect.

Posted by: mjm | August 23, 2005 10:03 PM | Report abuse

You are okay, except in one respect - Zotob was NOT created by script kiddies. It is fairly sophisticated, and the speed with which it was created shows that. Just substitute Zoloft for Zotob and your paranoia will subside a little. Substitute a Mac or some Unix / Linux machine for your PC running Windows on top of that and you will achieve utter bliss. I have no idea what servers the DHS is using, but if it is Microsoft, they are idiots. I would go with the OS/400 or the big iron for that (I wouldn't even trust the Unix boxes).


Posted by: Henry Hertz Hobbit | August 29, 2005 2:36 AM | Report abuse

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