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Computer Virus Disrupts Houston Municipal Court Systems

Houston (USA) halted part of the municipal courts operations, suspending arrests and canceling hearings for minor crimes following a virus that infected several hundred computers in the city.

A spokesman from the Houston IT Department states that the virus seems to have infiltrated the Parking Management and Municipal Court systems located in the Houston City. According to the spokesman, while the malware has prevented viewing majority of the data stored on hard drives of the computers, it doesn't seem that any information has been deleted.

The virus, which first made its appearance on February 4, 2009 while spreading across the main network of the city, attacked primarily the municipal courts' systems. In fact, the courts had to cancel their dockets on February 6, 2009 because the infection had spread intensely.

Moreover, the Houston Emergency Center had to disconnect itself from the city's key network due to the fear that the malware transmits itself further. Those who dispatched information had to use radios rather than computers. However, according to officials, no call was delayed.

According to Frank Michel, Spokesman for Bill White, Mayor of Houston, the virus corrupted 475 city computers from the total of 16,000, as reported by dallasnews on February 7, 2009.

In addition, Houston's Deputy Director of IT, Janis Benton, reported that officials doubted the infection was caused by Conficker, the most recent and malicious virus breaching the security of 10 Million computers, including the French defense systems and New Zealand's national health department computers, as reported by chron on February 6, 2009.

Although officials have still not been able to figure out the manner in which the virus reached Houston's computer network, they have promised a detailed probe. Furthermore, they have overpowered the malware with the assistance of a private firm that detects and removes viruses. Accordingly an experts' team has been invited to eliminate the troublesome virus.

Meanwhile, Gwendolyn Goins, Spokeswoman of Municipal Courts assured that the infection would not be allowed to compromise or steal personal data, as reported by dallasnews on February 07, 2009.

However, although the experts have quarantined the virus, it is continuing to cause problems, officials said.

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