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Cal Poly Institute Encounters Spamming Worm

'Cal Ploy's' institute notified that a worm breached one of its computer systems that stored names and Social Security numbers of almost 7,000 former and current students.

The computer system was used in combination with the telephone billing system in the campus. It contained personal information of students who lived in Cal Poly's residential dormitories and had telephone connections between 2001 and 2005. Strangely, students who lived in the campus premises but did not have telephone accounts weren't affected.

In les than two years, such a theft case has occurred for the sixth time in which information about 'Cal Poly' students were laid bare. It was a case of the largest number of affected students. The last incident took place on July 3 when there was a theft of a laptop from Prof John Mottmann's home containing data of 3,020 students.
In the recent incident, the worm went deep into a computer connected to the 'Cal Poly network' and started sending spam, said Tim Kearns, chief information officer of Cal Poly. Like its nature, the spam worm sent volumes of e-mail from the infected computer. The result of the spamming was clogging of the Internet due to mails originating from the compromised computer.

A spamming worm resembles a computer virus in some respects. A worm runs a program, but a virus joins itself to another program or file. A virus handles only one computer but a worm like this one affects many. It searches different places in the Internet to install itself.

According to Kearns, the worm dug into the computer linked to the institute's network and started churning spam. It is unknown where the worm originated but it is possible that it got into 'Cal Ploy's computer network through an e-mail file from some other computer. Alternatively, it might be downloaded from a malicious website.

Some of the spam mails reached a computer at Columbia University in New York where officials monitoring the machine noted the 'badware' and located the source as Cal Poly. Officials believe the worm infected the Cal Poly system for over two weeks.

Related article: Chile Earthquake Facilitates the Increase of Rogue Anti-Virus

» SPAMfighter News - 10/27/2006

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