Computer Virus Travels the Globe

The FBI is still investigating a computer virus that slowed Internet traffic and money transactions around the globe over the weekend.

Computer experts are calling it the "SQL Slammer Worm" because the bug mostly affects larger networks using Microsoft SQL server. It's believed the bug started in South Korea.

Jeff Strout, director of IP Services at Cox Communications, says the worm traveled across the web Saturday with a particular target in mind.

"What it exploits a hole in the Microsoft SQL server and then propagates itself around the Internet," Strout says. "Once you're affected, then you go after other people and affect them."

Strout says larger companies using Microsoft SQL server or Office suite products carrying SQL were the ones hit. The virus creates an overload of Internet traffic creating a virtual traffic jam. That jam was felt Saturday by thousands of Bank of America customers who were unable to get money out of their ATM accounts. A Bank of America spokesperson says the virus caused sporadic interruptions in their ATM network, but did not affect customer accounts.

The company was not alone, businesses across the globe-from South Korea to Tyler lost time and money. The virus created the biggest stir in South Korea, where the country's stock market fell to a 13 month low because investors were fearful to trade on the Internet.

Tyler experienced the problem on a much smaller scale.

"We contacted some key customers that were affected," recalls Strout. "Then, as a precaution, we shut down are Internet network." Strout says about 5 local businesses faced difficulties, but individual computer owners were not affected.

He says oddly enough, Microsoft invented a patch for this virus six months ago.

"What I would do is I would go up to the Internet, and I would pull down the patches from Microsoft, and apply them.

You can find software to battle this virus by going to the Know More on 7 Icon on our home page.  Just look for the Microsoft link.

Kerri Panchuk, reporting.