This is Mary Tillotson.
And this is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program
EXPLORATIONS. Computer viruses are harmful computer programs
that can destroy information on a computer or cause the computer
to stop. Today we tell about a recent virus attack and how you
can protect your computer from such attacks.
The Internet communications system permits millions of computer
users around the world to link together for business and enjoyment.
Private citizens, businesses and governments use the Internet.
Anyone using the Internet can find information about many different
subjects in many different languages in only a few minutes.
The Internet is the fastest, most modern and best communications
tool ever invented. However, the Internet also makes it possible
for one person to damage or slow thousands of computers that
are linked to it. They can do this by writing computer instructions
that cause damage. Or they make the computer fill itself with
so much useless information that it stops working.
On January twenty-fourth, a kind of computer virus called a
¡°worm¡± was released to infect the Internet.
A worm is a computer instruction that makes copies of itself
and sends copies to other computers.
This worm sent copies of itself to computers across the Internet.
The worm temporarily damaged millions of computers around the
world. It slowed large groups of computers called networks.
For example, one large American banking company had to close
about thirteen-thousand of its money machines. People could
no longer get their money from the bank¡¯s machines
using their plastic cards.
A major international airline could not sell tickets using
the Internet because the worm made its computers fail. Emergency
service workers in the western American City of Seattle, Washington
could not answer emergency calls because the worm caused their
computers to fail.
Computer experts named the worm ¡°W-Thirty-Two-Slammer.¡±
They said the worm caused a problem for the Internet that was
similar to when there are too many cars on a road in a large
city. This kind of vehicle problem is called a traffic jam.
The Slammer worm caused an information jam.
The experts believe the worm was first released in Asia. An
American computer expert said evidence seemed to show the virus
first appeared in Hong Kong. A government computer team in Hong
Kong is working to find who released the new virus.
South Korea may have been the worst affected nation in the
January twenty-fourth attack. On January twenty-seventh, a spokesman
for South Korea¡¯s Information and Communication
Ministry said computer communications on the Internet were almost
back to normal. The ministry also said experts were working
to find where the computer virus came from.
Computer experts in China and Taiwan also reported problems
with the worm. Computers in Japan suffered some problems. But
they were mostly limited to some schools and companies.
By the morning of January twenty-eighth, computer experts around
the world had stopped the worm or made their computer systems
safe against the Slammer. Experts believe the worm cost computer
networks many millions of dollars in delays, lost business,
and the loss of work usually done on a computer.
The person who wrote the instructions that created the Slammer
worm attacked computers that use the Microsoft computer system.
Microsoft quickly provided the necessary computer instructions
to make its system safe and prevent the Slammer worm from attacking
The kind of program that made the Microsoft system safe is
called a ¡°patch¡± or ¡°update.¡±
Microsoft says it wants to improve the speed of future updates
or patches for computer users linked to the Internet.
Computer experts say the Internet has become extremely important
every day in every area of the world. They say businesses, local
governments and private citizens everywhere are using the Internet
as an important part of their business or daily life. The experts
say some businesses could no longer exist without the Internet.
However, many businesses, local governments and private citizens
have failed to learn how to protect their computers from viruses
or worm attacks.
Sophos P-L-C is a computer company in Britain that makes programs
that protect computers against viruses and worms. It is the
fourth largest anti-virus company.
Recently, Sophos company officials warned computer users against
many new viruses and worms. The officials said recent evidence
shows that some people are working hard to make illegal computer
programs. The Sophos company said this in a newspaper report
printed in Singapore on January fourteenth, only ten days before
the Slammer worm attack.
Graham Cluley is a computer expert with the Sophos company.
He says computer security companies expect more viruses and
worms this year. He says virus writers want to create the next
super virus or worm. These can be easily spread by electronic
mail or from a computer communications method called Instant
Messaging. Mister Cluley said this kind of virus or worm causes
the greatest problems.
The Sophos Company experts say about eighty-thousand computer
viruses are now known to exist. The experts say about six-hundred
new computer viruses are released into the Internet each month.
Mister Cluley says nine of last year¡¯s ten most
damaging viruses were spread by electronic mail to computers
that use Microsoft Windows as their operating system.
A company called F-Secure also makes computer security programs.
Its experts say new kinds of computer attacks will be aimed
at damaging millions of computers very quickly. This kind of
attack is called a ¡°flash worm.¡± It
would be able to infect millions of computers in less than fifteen
minutes. An F-Secure company computer expert says it is just
a matter of time before someone tries to infect the Internet
with such a program.
Computer experts say many private citizens, businesses and
local governments are not concerned about computer security
until they suffer a damaging attack. Such an attack can cost
computer users a great deal of money in lost business, lost
information or damaged computer equipment. They say the attack
can be more costly than providing good communications security.
The experts say that using a computer anti-virus program is
the first step in protecting a business or private computer.
An anti-virus program searches the computer for, and guards
against, viruses. It also inspects incoming e-mail and new programs
The experts say that many good computer companies produce anti-virus
protection programs. Most companies that offer anti-virus programs
also provide new information called ¡°updates¡±
to protect against new viruses or worms as they appear.
An American company called McAfee Security produces a popular
anti-virus protection program. Company officials say a good
anti-virus program is only the first step in computer security.
The company lists a number of things computer users can also
do to help protect their computers.
For example, do not open any file attached to electronic mail
if it comes from an unknown person or place. Delete electronic
mail from unknown people. Make copies of all important documents
and keep them in a safe place. This should be done often to
protect valuable information.
Computer experts agree that everyone should refuse computer
information from strangers. They also agree that users must
be extremely careful when copying any kind of information from
the Internet to their computer¡¯s memory. All experts
agree that doing these things is better than suffering a virus
or worm attack.
The Internet is fun, educational and a great business tool.
But because of computer virus attacks, safety is extremely important.
This program was written and produced by Paul Thompson. I¡¯m
And I¡¯m Mary Tillotson. Join us again next week
for EXPLORATIONS, a program in Special English on the Voice
This V-O-A Explorations Report is published
courtesy of VOAnews.com