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'Code Red II' hits Hong Kong government

HONG KONG, China (CNN) -- The "Code Red II" worm has hit the internal servers of the Hong Kong government, causing temporary suspension of access.

Two versions of the Internet worm have been burrowing through computers around the world for the past few weeks, with total damage now estimated at more than $2 billion.

Code Red II, like its predecessor, spreads through a security hole in Microsoft's server software (IIS) running on Windows NT or Windows 2000 machines.

"We have 17 Intranet Web servers found infected with the Code Red II computer worm -- it was discovered August 13, Monday evening," a spokesperson at the Hong Kong Information Technology Services Department told CNN.

The Intranet system is used for the distribution of information within government departments and bureaus. The government's public Internet services were not affected.

The spokesperson said the internal systems infected by the worm remain suspended.

"We have to check that there are no more infection cases found, and we're having other departments take necessary precaution measures," she said.

Over the last two weeks, reports of worm attacks have surfaced from businesses, government agencies, and educational institutions in South Korea, Japan and Mainland China.

The Code Red II worm, which strikes servers using certain Microsoft software and operating systems, is a second and more pernicious relative of the Code Red worm that hit more than 300,000 computers in July.

The worm can slow Internet traffic and leave a "back door," a path for outsiders to enter and remotely control the infected machine.

The back door can render servers vulnerable to future hacking, giving intruders immediate access to classified information or even opportunity to launch a denial of service attack.

A free server software patch and instructions on how to apply it are available on the Microsoft Security Bulletin Web site.

• Microsoft

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