S E O U L, South Korea, Aug. 10 -- The Code Red computer virus has mutated into a third, more dangerous variant, South Korea’s Information and Communication Ministry said today.
“About 10 damage reports have come in which were believed to have been the result of the latest Code Red III,” Ko Kwang-sup, an official at the ministry, told Reuters.
He said the Code Red III worm spreads even faster than earlier versions and leaves a wider “back door” on infected machines, making them more vulnerable to future hacking.
The ministry said about 43,201 servers at 15,000 Korean organizations or companies had been hit by versions of Code Red so far. Nearly 1,400 instances of damage had been reported.
“Actual damage might have been higher than reported figures,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Code Red worm spreads surreptitiously through a hole in certain Microsoft software such as Internet Information Server (IIS) Web software and Windows NT or 2000 machines operating systems.
The Information and Communication Ministry said small companies and educational institutions had been hardest hit by the so-called “worm.”
On Tuesday, a cluster of government offices in Taejon city, south of Seoul, were hit by Code Red, sparking a shutdown of some systems to prevent it spreading further.