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Current estimates are way too optimistic.

It was Microsoft's thirty ninth security bulletin of the year. (It's been a slow year.) A vulnerability was reported to Microsoft and they supposedly resolved it. [The astute reader will remember the Redmond hype a few years back about automated programs that comb their source trees for holes. Ed.]

It was a remote execution vulnerability in Microsoft's genial Plug and Play (aka 'Plug and Pray'). It allowed an attacker to take complete control of an infected Microsoft system. The attacker could then install programs, modify and/or delete data, and even create new system accounts with full user rights.

Soon 250,000 machines world wide were affected. What was dramatic was not the number but the speed. It took hacker gangs a matter of hours to start a zombie war to control the computers. The Financial Times of London claim twelve gangs are currently in the melee.

Several high profile multinationals were hit hard: CNN, the Financial Times, Boeing, the Associated Press, the New York Times, ABC News, General Electric, Caterpillar, and Disneyland.

Disneyland's 2,000 computers - and their cash registers, their cast deployment system, their employee management system, and their Fast Pass dispensers - all were knocked out. Everyone's park ticket had to be scanned manually, and when the systems came back online they still wouldn't work because some admissions had not entered the broken system. Employees didn't know where to go to work because that system was out too.

ABC News producers used electric typewriters to prepare their 'World News Tonight' broadcast, according to their spokesman Jeffrey Schneider.

Twelve thousand (12,000) computers were knocked offline in San Diego county CA.

There are at time of writing 1,080 [sic] links to this story at Google UK. Clearly current estimates as to the number of fools on the planet are way too optimistic.

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Security experts offer calm in the Windows Plug-and-Play storm

Disneyland brought low by Windows worms

Worm rooted out of county government computers

For Worm Writers, Speed Thrills

Turf war erupts as hackers send viruses to hijack PCs

New computer worms attack over 100 US companies

Competing 'worms' hit US news providers

Windows Worm Goes Global

Major news organisations hit by fast spreading virus

Variants of spreading Windows worm emerge

Plug and Play pandemonium

Windows worm causes red faces

Worm Burrows Into Network Flaw

CNN, FT Computers Attacked by Microsoft Windows Worm

FT briefing: The Zotob and Esbot worms

250 000 PCs down

Windows worm hits global systems

Windows worm beginning to spread

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